If you find that your child had a filling or a sealant done and your dentist tells you that the filling has come out, don’t panic! Sometimes the filling may need to be replaced or the tooth may need a crown. When it comes to why the fillings came out, these are a few ideas of what the culprit may be.

Sticky, Gummy Foods

What’s the first thing that you think of when it comes to sticky or gummy foods? Candy, right? But candy isn’t the real problem!

Sticky gummy foods come in all forms; vitamins, supplements, fruit snacks, dried fruit and granola bars are all sticky gummy foods that can help separate the filling from the tooth. Remember that there is nothing man-made that is stronger than enamel because enamel is the hardest substance in the human body! Fillings are attached to the tooth like Velcro and if sticky foods cause a tug-of-war between the tooth and the filling, the filling will lose each time because enamel is stronger than a filling.

The filing will be pulled away from the tooth and get looser each time you chew on the filling until the filling falls out.

The best way to keep your child away from sticky, gummy foods is to encourage them to try different snacks. Chips, pretzels, fruit, popcorn and nuts all make better alternatives for snacks, ice cream, and popsicles if your child has a sweet tooth. A healthy diet goes a long way!

Composite (White) vs. Amalgam (Silver) Fillings

Most parents prefer composite (white) fillings because they are mercury-free and they look more cosmetic. These fillings bond to the tooth like Velcro once they are hardened. The integrity of the bond can be weakened by a bit of moisture or even weak tooth structure. Each tooth may also bond to the tooth differently. Although composite fillings look better, when they come out it may damage the tooth.

Amalgam (silver) fillings don’t bond to tooth structure. Instead they stay in the tooth mechanically. While amalgam fillings are more resistant to moisture they are also prone to crack and break because they aren’t as elastic as composite fillings. Amalgam fillings usually break because of hard foods like nuts and ice. Both materials are weaker than enamel and will never be a replacement for your original teeth.

It is also possible that your filling is leaking and when germs and plaque get underneath a filling it can cause the tooth underneath to decay.

Potential Tooth Decay Underneath the Filling

Other times the reason for a filling falling out has more to do with further tooth decay happening underneath where the filling was attached.

This can widen the cavity and reduce the strength of the bond holding the filling in. When a composite or an amalgam have decay underneath it can be very difficult to simply replace the filling. Your dentist will let you know if the decay is extensive enough to warrant a nerve treatment. If the decay has progressed into the nerve there is a higher risk of infection or abscess.

Grinding Teeth, and Chewing Hard Foods

Chewing ice, hard candy, or sticky candy like taffy can be risky for anyone with fillings. The hardness of the ice puts a lot of stress on the filling, and of course anything particularly chewy or sticky can pull at the filling and slowly weaken its bond with the tooth. This can loosen or weaken the filling and cause the tooth to have areas where the decay can begin under the filling.

Some children grind and this can also be detrimental to fillings. If your child grinds the degree of grinding will determine the type of restoration that your pediatric dentist will do on your child’s tooth.