Temporary Filling in a 46 Molar Tooth

Many patients come into our office for dental procedures that take more than one visit to complete. Sometimes, we have to use what is known as a “temporary filling” to fill in the tooth while we wait for the lab to make a crown or need to redesign one.

Do temporary fillings last forever?


In fact, even permanent fillings have a certain lifespan.

How Long Can You Expect Your Temp Filling to Last?

Temporary fillings are designed to last six to eight weeks, but there have been cases where they last longer with the proper care. Often, one of two things will happen to a temp filling that has been in a patient’s mouth for too long:

  1. The filling breaks
  2. The filling falls out

When we insert a temporary filling, we will schedule your next appointment while you’re in the office so that you don’t wait too long between appointments and experience a failing filling or a gap between your teeth

It’s crucial for your dental health to attend the second appointment so that we can finish your procedure. Otherwise, your tooth may feel fine until the filling fails. If you allow the filling to fall out and do not come in immediately, it can lead to further decay, pain and potential tooth loss.

Caring for Your Temporary Filling

Temporary fillings must be taken care of properly to extend their lifespan. When you leave our office, we provide you with specific care instructions that are meant to extend the lifespan of the filling and allow your procedure to be a success.

A few things that we recommend are:

  • Avoid eating on the side of the mouth with the filling for a few hours or even a day or so
  • Avoid sticky foods, such as caramel or taffy, which can stick to the filling and even cause it to fall out leaving a diastema space
  • Avoid hard foods that can dislodge the filling or cause it to break

On top of these precautions, you’ll want to maintain a strict dental care routine. Brush your teeth twice per day to control plaque and floss at least once daily. You should gently brush your tooth and filling, avoiding hard-bristle brushes or applying too much pressure.

When flossing between the tooth with the filling, you must take the utmost care not to dislodge the filling. We recommend that you:

  • Gently pull the floss between the tooth
  • Stop flossing if the floss gets caught on the filling

For a day or two, the area where the filling is located may be sore or uncomfortable, so you’ll want to be very gentle with your brushing and flossing at this time. 

Depending on the tooth's location, we suggest refraining from flossing the tooth to lower the risk of pulling the filling out.

One last major point to remember is that you don’t want to continue touching the filling with your tongue. Many patients like to explore their dental work with their tongue to see how it feels, but this practice can cause the filling to loosen.

Instead, try to avoid “messing with” the tooth until you’re back in our office for a permanent filling. If you do experience any issues with the temporary filling before your appointment, be sure to call our office. We may need to replace the temporary filling so that no further damage can occur.

How Long to Wait to Eat After a Filling?

If you leave our office with your stomach growling and go to pick up or cook your favorite food, you might want to wait a second. Every filling material has its own curing time, and it’s important for the filling to cure before eating.

However, you’ll also need to adhere to the following advice:

  • Be very cautious when eating if your mouth is still numb because you can bite your tongue or cheek and not realize it
  • Avoid hard foods or sticky foods, such as nuts, hard candy, taffy, ice cubes and others

Hot and cold may still cause some sensitivity at this time, so try eating warm foods if you do experience any discomfort.

Once the numbing has worn off and you’re feeling no pain, you can begin eating on the side of your mouth with the filling. However, you do want to wait at least a few hours after the procedure to start eating on the side of the mouth with the filling.

Adding soft foods to your diet while you wait for your permanent filling is recommended. For example, the first day or two after you have a filling put in, foods such as oatmeal, yogurt and ice cream can help you eat without needing to chew too much.

Will a Temporary Filling Hurt?

We try to avoid pain when working on our patients’ teeth. We want you to have a positive, pain-free experience, and we’ll typically numb the tooth before working on it. Numbing agents will allow us to drill into the tooth and work on it without you experiencing any pain in the process.

You might feel pressure and hear the drill, but the pain will be very minimal, if you even feel any pain at all.

Most of our patients report little-to-no pain when having the temporary filling placed. We can also remove the filling without causing pain.

However, when the numbing agent wears off, you may experience the following for a day or so:

  • Soreness in the tooth or jaw
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot

If you experience a high level of pain or discomfort, this is abnormal and we ask that you contact our office immediately. In fact, if you have the following, call us or an emergency dentist as soon as possible:

  1. Fever
  2. Significant swelling
  3. Redness
Waman holding cheek, sensitive tooth

Filling Materials

Temporary fillings are designed with softer, less durable material because we need to be able to remove it from your tooth when placing the permanent filling. We may use a variety of temporary filling materials for your tooth, including:

  • Cavit
  • Glass ionomers
  • Zinc oxide eugenol
  • Zinc phosphate cement

Depending on the material that we use, the tooth may have a very noticeable color, such as white, gray, pinkish and even blue. While the filling isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the permanent material we use for fillings, it will serve its purpose of protecting the tooth from further damage.

However, when we put in a permanent filling, we’ll use one of the more durable materials, such as:

  • Composite fillings: One of the most popular materials for filling in a cavity is the use of a composite. We make composite fillings out of ceramic resin, which we can match to your existing tooth color. This is an affordable tooth-filling option and can be hardened rapidly using special lights to cure it.
  • Amalgam: Silver in color and containing mercury, amalgam fillings are long-lasting and very durable. In fact, an amalgam filling can last 15+ years without needing replacement.
  • Glass ionomer: A weaker filling material that is often used on baby teeth or teeth that you don’t chew on is glass ionomer.
  • Gold: A gold inlay or outlay is one of the more expensive options for a filling, but if it’s something you prefer, it’s one of the longest-lasting fillings with superb strength and doesn’t tarnish.
  • Porcelain: Another inlay option is porcelain, which is designed to match the color of your natural tooth. Porcelain is a very durable and long-lasting material. Although it is more expensive than composite fillings, it lasts quite a long time.

Fillings are one of the most common procedures we perform in our office. If you have tooth pain or need a procedure performed that you’ve been putting off, we would be more than happy to help.

Other Temporary Options for Your Tooth

A temporary filling isn’t the only option we have when working on your teeth. We have access to a wide range of temporary options that can protect your tooth and allow us to wait a little bit before a permanent solution is ready.

For example, we may choose one of the following temporary options if a filling isn’t the best option for you:

Temporary Crowns
Temporary Crowns
  • Temporary crown. A temp crown is placed over the tooth when the cavity is exceptionally deep and a crown is the only viable corrective measure. The temporary crown will allow us to make and shape a permanent crown for your tooth that looks and feels very similar to your existing tooth.
  • Temporary seals. Following a root canal, we may temporarily seal the hole in the tooth to prevent bacteria or food particles from getting stuck in the tooth. Once the tooth is healed, we can then move to a more permanent solution.

As you can see, we have quite a few temporary options that will allow us to protect your tooth while a permanent solution is being prepared.

Our team will perform an extensive dental exam and ensure that we understand the extent of your tooth decay. Once we clean the teeth, perform x-rays and examine the tooth, we’ll discuss the best treatment options with you.

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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