A root canal provides a permanent solution for the infected and inflamed dental pulp inside your tooth. After all, what could be more permanent than the removal of the pulp? This permanent solution involves an important temporary step, and that's the temporary filling that your dentist will apply to the tooth. But what's the point of a temporary filling? And what happens if it's too temporary and falls out ahead of schedule?
The Root Canal Procedure
After removing your problematic pulp, your dentist thoroughly cleans the empty pulp chamber. This chamber is then packed with an inert, biocompatible filling material, which will be made of gutta-percha (a type of latex). The temporary filling is then added.
A Grace Period
The temporary filling is applied to allow a grace period of sorts. It gives your tooth and its surrounding structures ample time to recover, and this lets your dentist know if any modifications are needed. They want to be sure that the pulp chamber is not under-filled or overfilled with the packing material, and they also want to confirm that the inflamed dental pulp has been removed in its entirety.
Weeks, Not Months
The required time for a temporary filling can vary, but it's going to be a matter of weeks, as opposed to months. The filling isn't as strong as its permanent replacement, so it's not uncommon for a temporary filling to detach. Don't be alarmed, as it's not a significant event, but you should still see your dentist to have it replaced (or to have your permanent filling applied slightly earlier than anticipated).
The Lost Filling
Without the temporary filling, your tooth may be somewhat uncomfortable. Even though its pulp (which is the tooth's nerve) has been removed, you may experience some heightened sensitivity. Additionally, small fragments of the gutta-percha may detach and enter your mouth. These are not major concerns, but you must still see your dentist.
What a Dentist Will Do
Your dentist will either reapply the temporary filling or will move ahead to the next stage (the application of a permanent filling). The best course of action depends on how long the temporary filling was in place, along with your recovery from the initial root canal. Please remember that some teeth (particularly molars) will require more post-root canal reinforcement than others. It depends on how much bite pressure a tooth typically experiences. As such, some teeth will require a permanent filling and a dental crown.
The temporary filling is a necessary step of the overall root canal process. If it's too temporary and detaches of its own accord, remember this isn't a serious issue, but still warrants a dental examination.