Does this sound familiar? You’re going about your everyday activities– having a meal or snack–and suddenly, something in your mouth feels off. You poke around with your tongue and realize that you’ve broken a tooth or lost a crown. Often, our first response is panic. We wonder how extensive the damage is and what we’ll need to do to fix it. The good news is that a cracked or loose crown or broken tooth isn’t usually an emergency. However, you should make a plan to see your dentist quickly. Meanwhile, you can use temporary fixes to keep you healthy and pain-free until you can see your dentist. Remember, these are stopgap measures and not long-term solutions. Try to get into your dentist’s chair as soon as possible for professional care.
What If My Dental Crown Cracks?
Dental crowns are designed to last 15 to 20 years–or even longer with good oral care. However, cracks can occur, especially after years of wear and tear. Clenching, grinding, or biting into hard foods can cause your crown to crack. If it happens, don’t panic. Instead, call your dentist and take these steps while you wait to see him:
- Check the affected area. If pieces of the crown are loose, gently remove them to avoid swallowing.
- Check for sharp edges that might cut your tongue and cover with over-the-counter dental wax if needed.
- Call your family dentist. Depending on the severity of the crack, your dentist may be able to repair the crown using bonding material. In some cases, he’ll need to replace the crown.
What If My Crown Falls Off?
If your crown falls off, your priority is to avoid swallowing it. Then you can take steps to protect your tooth while waiting to see your dentist.
- Check the crown and look for pieces of the tooth inside. If the crown has fallen off without taking tooth material with it, that’s a positive sign.
- Hang onto the crown and call your family dentist.
- Protect the underlying tooth while you wait for your appointment. You can buy temporary dental cement or wax at the drugstore and mold it around your tooth.
- Clean the crown to bring to your appointment.
- Avoid hot, cold, or crunchy foods that might cause pain.
Can I Fix a Broken Tooth?
Especially as we age, our teeth can break because of decay, wear and tear or injury. When you break a tooth, a bacterial infection is a significant concern. You want to see your dentist as soon as possible. Here are some immediate steps you can take if you break a tooth while waiting to see your dentist.
- Assess the level of damage. Is it a crack or a major break? Is the pain mild or intense? In some cases, your dentist can save the tooth with bonding. In more severe cases, you may need a crown or dental implant. Your dentist may recommend a root canal if the tooth root is affected.
- Do a salt water rinse to ease pain and clean the area.
- Remove and save any loose pieces.
- Stick with softer foods to avoid pain.
- While you can’t “fix” a broken tooth alone, you can temporarily cover the remaining tooth with dental wax. A temporary covering can prevent injury to soft tissue or further breakage.
Have a Broken Tooth or Crown? See Your Dentist
If you have a cracked or missing crown or broken tooth, you can temporarily protect your tooth, but it’s crucial to schedule an appointment immediately. In most cases, the quicker you see your dentist, the better the outcome and the easier the repair. Waiting for professional care can lead to infection or further damage to your tooth or oral tissue.
You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation. Patients can also safely use clove oil (available at health food stores) for temporary pain relief. However, self-repair is a temporary fix. At Hall Family Dentistry, we provide routine and acute care in a gentle and compassionate setting. As always, our office is a judgment-free zone, so don’t let worry or fear cause you to put off that appointment. Whether it’s a quick fix or a more in-depth procedure, our goal is to establish your trust and get you the care you need.