If you have decay or a large filling in one of your teeth, it’s possible that one day you will bite down on a popcorn kernel, a peppercorn, or even a piece of soft white bread (which fills holes and then expands) and break a tooth. You can also break your tooth if you fall or have trauma to your mouth. The initial crack will probably startle you but don’t panic. Instead, follow these steps:
Assess the Damage
If you had trauma to your face or mouth, try to determine whether you need emergency medical care. If you’re bleeding a lot or if you think a bone might have been broken, head to the emergency room. If you’ve had a head injury it should be evaluated. If you just bit down on a hard piece of food, take a look in your mouth to see if a piece of your tooth chipped off or if you cracked the tooth in half. If there’s blood, rinse your mouth with lukewarm water; hot or cold water can make any pain worse.
Call Your Dentist
If you’re having a lot of pain or persistent discomfort, or if you have a sharp edge that might cut your tongue or cheek, call the dentist, even if it’s during the weekend. If your dentist is unavailable, leave a message with their answering service; your dentist or another dentist who is on call will contact you. Mild discomfort can usually wait until the office opens unless it gets progressively worse.
Visit the Pharmacy
If you can’t reach your dentist right away or they can’t see you, head to the pharmacy for temporary dental cement. This is a putty-like product that usually contains clove oil, which can settle down a painful tooth. You can apply it to the broken part of the tooth to reduce the sharp edge and to fill the hole left behind. It can also be used to glue on a knocked-out crown. Be aware that it’s only a temporary measure and that you still need to see your dentist as soon as possible.
It can be stressful if you break a tooth, but in most cases, your dentist will be able to fix it up without much of a problem. In some cases, the tooth will need to be extracted. Give us a call if you have questions about how to handle this type of situation.