If you have lost a filling while on holiday, or your dentist is currently unavailable to refill your tooth, you will need to act quickly to ensure that your tooth does not get infected. Although there should still be a thin layer of dentin between the tooth nerve and the cavity, it is important that you do all you can to protect that nerve.
There are number of ways that you can keep your tooth from becoming infected while without your filling. However, do not leave your tooth this way for more than a day or two. The longer you leave the tooth exposed, the greater the chances of it becoming infected.
Use a Temporary Filling
With the innards of your tooth exposed as they are, the chances of the nerve becoming infected are greatly increased. While enamel, the outer surface of a tooth, serves as a protective shield against bacteria, the underlying layer of dentin cannot stop bacteria from gaining access to the interior of the tooth. If bacteria gain entry and irritate the nerve, the tooth will die, but first you will experience some excruciating toothache.
Wherever you are, there is usually a pharmacy nearby. Get to the pharmacy and ask for some filling cement. After you have mixed and added the cement, it should keep your tooth protected until you can get to your dentist. However, be careful what you eat as these fillings are temporary and therefore far more prone to breaking than a standard amalgam or resin filling.
Gargle Salt and Warm Water
Of course, if for whatever reason you cannot get to a pharmacy, then you will need to keep the marauding bacteria at bay. This means keeping your mouth as clean as possible. Every few hours, add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle. Doing so helps to kill bacteria and soothe any irritation.
Be Especially Vigilant at Night and in the Morning
While you sleep, bacteria multiply in your mouth due to the lack of saliva, which is a natural antibacterial agent. Therefore, always brush your teeth and gargle warm salt water before bed. If salt water makes you gag, gargle a mouthwash instead. Ask your pharmacist to suggest a suitably strong brand for your needs.
The morning too is an important time. The amount of bacteria will have built up in your mouth. Brush and gargle as soon as you awaken to cut down the number of bacteria in your mouth.
Remember too that the nerve of a tooth can be irritated by acidic foods and drinks like soda or citrus fruit. Stay away from these until the tooth is filled. Lastly, try not to eat foods that break into many small pieces, such as peanuts as these pieces may enter the exposed area and irritate the nerve. An irritated nerve may die, and this could add thousands to your dental bill.