Ask The Dentist – Temporary Fillings

Are shop bought dental fillings OK to use as a permanent solution?

Today’s question comes from an Waltham Abbey patient who has used a temporary filling from her chemist and wants to know if that is sufficient.

Q. Hello,  I was recently invited, at fairly short notice, to go on a trip to South America with a friend and didn’t have time to see a dentist before I went. As part of my medical pack that I took with me, as we were going to many remote places, I took a temporary dental filling kit that I bought from a chemist. As it happened, whilst I was there, one of my fillings came out so I was pleased to be able to refill it using this. It all seems OK, but I wonder if I can just leave this or whether I need to make an appointment and a filling by yourselves?

Hello and thanks for this interesting question which I feel others may find useful too. I also hope that you had an exciting trip.

It was a wise move to take a temporary filling kit with you, and, providing that you buy a reputable brand, these are very useful in an ’emergency’ situation, and the material is also similar to that used by dentists. The problem with them arises not so much with the material, but with the placing of the filling. You don’t say whether you did it yourself, or one of your colleagues did it for you? It would probably be better, although not perfect, to allow someone else to place it as it is very difficult to do it yourself. Whichever way though, it should still be seen for what it is described as, i.e. a ‘temporary’ filling only.

Although you may feel like you (or your colleagues) have done a good job and the filling feels fine; there is every likelihood that there are spaces left between the filling and your natural tooth. This will not only mean that the filling may be weaker than if professionally placed, but also leaves areas where bacteria can accumulate and dental decay will then eventually occur. This would likely result in more of your tooth having to be removed and potentially also cause discomfort and toothache.

I would recommend that you call into our dental practice which is only a few miles from Waltham Abbey and let us take a look. In all likelihood, we will need to remove the temporary filling and replace it, helping to prevent further deterioration. Depending on the tooth’s location in your mouth, you may also wish to consider if this is a good time to have a white tooth coloured filling instead. These are now very strong and more aesthetically pleasing than traditional versions. Of course, the choice is yours and we are happy to use whichever you prefer.

Please call The Lodge Dental Suite to arrange an appointment for an examination on 01992 643 388.