Getting a dental filling can be an unpleasant experience. Once the procedure is over, one of the first questions that comes to mind is “When can I eat again?” The answer depends on a few key factors.
When can I eat after a dental filling?
In most cases, it is recommended to wait 60 minutes after a dental filling before eating or drinking. This gives the filling material enough time to begin setting properly. However, your dentist may give you specific instructions depending on the location of the filling and materials used.
Why should I wait before eating after a dental filling?
There are a few reasons why it is important to wait before eating after getting a dental filling:
- The filling material needs time to harden. Dental fillings set and harden through a chemical process that requires time. Eating or drinking too soon could displace the filling material before it fully hardens.
- Biting pressure can disturb the filling. Chewing and biting puts force on the newly placed filling and could cause cracks or damage if the material has not hardened enough.
- Hot and cold foods/drinks can affect the filling. Exposing a new filling to temperature extremes can cause sensitivity or affect the bond with the tooth.
- Food particles can get lodged around the filling. Waiting helps avoid getting food debris stuck in the margins between the filling and the tooth, which can lead to cavities.
Letting the filling set avoids these issues and helps ensure it remains intact and functional.
Factors that determine how long to wait before eating
Several factors affect the recommended time you should wait before eating after a dental filling, including:
Type of filling material
Some dental filling materials, such as composite resins, take less time to harden than others, like amalgam fillings. Your dentist will consider the specific material used to fill your tooth when advising how long to wait before eating.
Location of the filling
Fillings placed in molars or other posterior teeth are not as impacted by biting pressure as those in front teeth. If the filling is towards the back of your mouth, you may be able to eat sooner.
Complexity of the procedure
For simple, shallow fillings placed in an easy to access area, an hour may be enough wait time. Deep fillings, or those requiring extensive preparation, may require a longer set time before eating to ensure the bond with the tooth is secure.
Your specific tooth sensitivity
Some people experience temperature sensitivity or pressure sensitivity after a new filling. If you know you are prone to this, your dentist may advise waiting longer before exposing the tooth to hot, cold or force from chewing.
What can I eat after a dental filling?
Once the advised waiting period has passed after your filling, you can return to your normal diet. But it’s wise to start with softer foods for the first day and avoid anything too hot or cold. Some good options include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed potatoes
- Soup (warm, not hot)
Avoid very hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky foods for the first 24 hours. Things like nuts, popcorn, caramel, and chewing gum can loosen or damage a new filling.
Pain after a filling – is it normal?
It’s common to have some sensitivity after getting a dental filling, but severe pain is not normal. Here’s what to expect:
Having mild soreness in the area of the filling for a day or two is normal as the numbness wears off. Your tooth may also feel sensitive to temperature or pressure temporarily.
Moderate to severe pain
If the pain seems excessive given the scale of the filling, or lasts more than 3-4 days, contact your dentist. Significant pain that disrupts sleep or requires medication could signify an issue with the filling.
Recession over time
Pain that develops weeks or months later and seems to worsen over time could indicate recession around the filling. See your dentist to have the area evaluated.
How long do fillings last?
With proper care, dental fillings can last many years. But they do not last forever and will eventually need replacement. Here is how long fillings typically last:
|Amalgam (silver) fillings
|Composite (tooth-colored) fillings
|Glass ionomer cement
Factors that reduce filling longevity:
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Poor oral hygiene
- Cracks or fractures in the filling
- Tooth decay getting under the filling
With regular dental exams and good home care, you can maximize the lifespan of your fillings.
Can I get my filling replaced immediately if it falls out?
If a filling falls out, you should see your dentist for a replacement as soon as reasonably possible. However, it usually cannot be replaced immediately in the same appointment.
This is because the dentist needs to thoroughly clean out the tooth, check for any decay, and prepare the tooth before placing new filling material. They may also want to assess why the filling fell out to prevent it happening again.
Waiting at least until the following day allows for proper assessment and preparation to get the best long-term outcome from your new filling.
Do fillings hurt long term?
Properly placed and cared for dental fillings should not cause any long term discomfort. However, in some cases fillings may become irritating over time:
- Filling is too high – This can allow the opposite tooth to strike the filling when biting, causing pain.
- Tooth decay under filling – If decay is sealed under the filling, it can progress and cause pain.
- Filling not bonded well – If the bond with the tooth deteriorates, temperature sensitivity and pressure pain may occur.
See your dentist if a filling becomes painful or irritating long after placement. Replacing it can often resolve the issue.
Risks of eating too soon after a filling
Eating too soon after a filling before it fully sets carries certain risks:
Dislodging the filling
Force from chewing combined with temperature extremes from food or drink can loosen and disrupt a filling before it has bonded properly. This can result in loss of the filling.
Cracked or fractured filling
Hard foods or chewing force applied too soon could crack the filling material. Cracks allow bacteria access that can lead to decay under or around the filling.
Increased temperature sensitivity
Exposing the tooth to hot or cold foods before the filling has set may irritate the nerve and cause temporary or long term temperature sensitivity.
Damage to the tooth
In rare cases, chewing force or temperature extremes applied to a new filling can actually fracture the tooth itself or reopen sealed dentinal tubules, requiring additional dental treatment.
Precautions for the first 24 hours after a filling
Here are some useful precautions for the first day after getting a dental filling:
- Wait the recommended time before eating, usually 60 minutes
- Avoid chewing on the side with the new filling
- Choose soft foods and chew slowly and gently
- Do not eat extremely hot or cold foods
- Take care when brushing around the new filling
- Avoid sticky, chewy, crunchy, or hard foods
- Use desensitizing toothpaste if you experience some temperature sensitivity
When to call the dentist after a filling
In most cases, new fillings heal without incident. But contact your dentist right away if you experience:
- Severe throbbing pain that medication does not relieve
- Hot/cold sensitivity or pain that worsens over time
- Pain when biting down that lasts more than 3-4 days
- Filling falling out shortly after placement
- Symptoms of infection like swelling, fever, or pus
Calling as soon as possible for evaluation can minimize further complications from issues with a new filling.
Waiting 60 minutes to eat or drink after a dental filling is the standard recommendation to allow proper hardening. However, your dentist may advise a shorter or longer wait time depending on the specific case. Be sure to follow your dentist’s post-procedure instructions. With appropriate care after placement, dental fillings can last many years before needing replaced.