How to Do an Emergency Dental Filling Replacement

A temporary filling can protect your cavity until you can get to the dentist.
A temporary filling can protect your cavity until you can get to the dentist. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Losing a dental filling when you're without access to a dentist can be painful and embarrassing. It also increases your chances of dental infection and limits your ability to chew on the side of your mouth from which you lost the filling, stressing the teeth on the opposite side. While a lost filling isn't an immediate emergency, it does require attention. With the right tools, you can easily, though temporarily, replace the filling until you can get to the dentist.

Things You'll Need

  • Antibacterial soap
  • Antiseptic mouthwash
  • Soft dental or orthodontic wax, sugarless chewing gum, or pre-mixed dental-filling compound
  • Eugenol (oil of clove) with an application dropper
  • Sterile, lukewarm water

Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap.

Rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash. If you're experiencing pain from an exposed nerve where the filling was, draw some eugenol - also known as oil of clove -- into a dropper and apply a few drops to the site to numb it.

Scoop out a small amount of dental compound, soft dental wax or soft chewing gum. Roll it into a ball and pack it into the cavity. Bite down and scrape away any excess. Use the applicator from the dental-repair kit, if you have one, for this step.

Rinse the tooth with sterile, lukewarm water to keep your mouth hydrated. The dental compound contains ingredients like zinc oxide or barium oxide, which harden by absorbing moisture from your mouth.

Allow the compound to set for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer before attempting to chew on the filling.

Tips & Warnings

  • While you can purchase emergency dental repair kits at many retail drugstore chains, the amount of temporary dental filling they contain is usually good for only three or four treatments. Your circumstances -- if you're camping or vacationing in a foreign country, for example -- may keep you from seeing a dentist before you use up the supply.
  • Talk to your dentist in advance of your trip about purchasing a vial of temporary dental filling compound, which will hold about ten times the amount of a retail repair kit.
  • Be careful when applying eugenol. It can burn gums and skin inside your mouth.
  • Dental repair compound containing eugenol in a safe dosage is commercially available

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