Broken filling after one week. Do I have to pay to fix it?
August 16, 2018 3:39 AM   Subscribe

A week ago, my new dentist fixed what he said was a damaged, two surface (between teeth) filling. Today, after eating my (soft) lunch, a chunk of filling/tooth came out. Do I have to pay to replace the filling again, or can I convince the dentist to fix it for free, and how would I go about this?

More info: it's a composite filling. I haven't done anything to damage the filling (don't eat hard food, don't grind my teeth), so my assumption is that the dentist did a poor job fixing the filling in the first place. It cost over $300 despite taking only 20 mins, so I really, really don't want to have to pay this again. If location is relevant, I'm in metropolitan Australia.
posted by neatsocks to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I’m not in Australia, but I would be surprised if you had to pay. I would call and tell them, “The filling I got last week already failed. When can I get it fixed?” Fillings between teeth are tricky and often fail - I ultimately had to get a both teeth capped in a similar scenario. But I think you should expect a fix to last more than a week.
posted by Kriesa at 3:57 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think you're entitled to a free repair, but I doubt your dentist did a sub-par job. These things just happen. Call the office.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:21 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

If the filling fell out because there was rot the dentist failed to remove where the dentist was focused, then it's his bad. If it didn't set right, it's his bad. If the filling fell out because of a separate cavity on the same tooth that the dentist didn't remove because he needed to stabilize the first part of your tooth... well, it's your bad, and/or don't be surprised if the dentist says there isn't enough tooth to salvage and he wants to move on with a root canal. Basically, if the dentist is trying to bond filling to pre-existing filling, and the reality is the tooth is scrap (ie you've had a few trips to the dentist over this tooth) this may not be the dentists fault.

I say this with extensive experience with dental problems in my mouth. I am not a dentist.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:36 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think the dentist probably should have warned you about the likelihood of failure if it was a particularly tricky or risky place to do a filling. I have had a few on difficult places and the dentist has always said something like, "Because of where this is, and the state of the tooth right now, it might last a month, or it might last five years, and we just won't know. Do you still want to try?" and I've said yes, knowing that I might have to pay more very soon to solve the problem a different way.

If the dentist didn't give you any warning like that, I think you are likely to be able to get it fixed for free, unless the fix is something much more expensive like a root canal, in which case you'll definitely still be on the hook.

I think you should call the dentist and say something like, "Hi, I just got a filling last week and it has already fallen out again. I'm hoping dealing with this is something the dentist would consider part of follow-up care, not at a separate cost." And then see what they say.

I am in Australia too, btw.
posted by lollusc at 5:46 AM on August 16, 2018

I've had this happen multiple times with the same filling, with multiple dentists. (Almost every one of my teeth has a filling, thanks, Dad, for your crappy tooth genetics.) Never EVER have I had to pay again; several times the dentist was sheepish and proactively offered after fixing it to fix it again if necessary. Between-teeth fillings are tricky.

Just to give you hope, all have eventually stuck, and I have not yet had to have a root canal or crown or anything else like that.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:52 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Give your dentist a call, say that it's failed, and they'll likely replace it for free. It happens.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:24 AM on August 16, 2018

You should not have to pay for this. A filling may have to be replaced at some point because reasons, but it should have to be removed for that procedure. It should never just fall out. If it does, that means something about putting it in didn't go right and that's on them, not you.
posted by slkinsey at 7:29 AM on August 16, 2018

Probably not, but it's worth a phone call. Ask directly "Should I plan to cover this expense?"
posted by Wild_Eep at 8:01 AM on August 16, 2018

In a similar situation, the dentist said "come on back, we'll try again! No charge!"
posted by bonheur at 8:59 AM on August 16, 2018

Part of the reason it was $300 the first time is to cover free follow up care when fillings fail.
posted by cogat at 2:06 PM on August 16, 2018

A reputable dentist will absolutely not charge you a thing to repair this. I'd insist on not paying a thing. This is their failure, not yours.
posted by quince at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2018

+1 that you should not have to pay for the replacement. I just had my dentist replace a filling for free after it fell out 1-2 years later.
posted by serelliya at 1:32 PM on August 17, 2018

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