819 East Franklin

Greencastle, IN

Dental Emergencies

These tips aren't intended to be final solutions, but can help you deal with a problem until you can see the dentist.

Broken Teeth

It isn't uncommon to fracture a cusp or corner of a back tooth, particularly if the tooth is mostly filling, which leaves the remaining tooth structure weak. The area will feel huge to your tongue and will be rough, but if it isn't sensitive or painful right away, it probably won't become painful any time soon. You should avoid chewing hard on this tooth and you should be careful to keep cold off this area, which could cause sharp pain.

If your tooth is very sensitive or painful following the fracture, you should call the dentist immediately to have the situation evaluated. Until you can be seen, it may be helpful to cover the broken area with a product called Dentemp, which can be found at Wal-Mart or CVS. Press it into the broken area with your finger and smooth away the excess. This temporary material will stay in place better if the void has walls to contain it. If the broken area is very shallow this material may not stick very well.

With a fracture of either tooth or filling, it is common to have sharp areas that can cut your tongue. You can use an emery board or finger nail file to dull the razor sharp edge. Again, filling the void with Dentemp may smooth things over. I don't recommend using a Dremel tool as this has great potential to do more harm than good.

Teeth knocked out

If the entire tooth (root and all) has been knocked out of your mouth, try to find the tooth. Don't pick it up by the darker yellow root part of the tooth. Grab the tooth by the white enamel end. If the tooth is covered by dirt or blood, don't attempt to scrub it clean. You could carefully run water over the tooth remove large amounts of dirt, but if you attempt to wipe it off you may remove structures on the root that will allow the tooth to be placed back in your jaw. You can place the tooth in water or milk, but the best place to store it is inside your mouth next to your cheek. Call the dentist immediately.

If you have a fractured front tooth, but the entire tooth has not been knocked out, it isn't as important to look for the broken fragment. Sometimes these big fragments can be used, but not always and they aren't essential. These can be small and hard to find anyway so don't waste too much time looking for these. Dentemp doesn't look good on front teeth and typically won't stay anyway. There aren't good temporary over the counter options for front teeth.

Lost Crowns

If a crown has come off of your tooth, particularly a front tooth where you might be concerned about your appearance, you can try to place it back using toothpaste, denture adhesive or a thin mix of the Dentemp product. You can try the same thing for a crown that came off of a back tooth, but be careful that you don't misplace the crown and swallow it. In either case, call the dentist immediately.

If tooth structure has broken off inside the crown and there doesn’t seem to be much tooth structure sticking up from your gums, it may not be possible to place the crown back temporarily. For any situation in the mouth, don’t attempt to use superglue or gorilla glue, as this may create bigger problems.

If the tooth isn’t sensitive, you should still call the dentist and have the situation evaluated or the crown recemented as soon as possible. If you procrastinate, it is possible that the teeth around the crowned tooth can move, making it difficult or impossible to place the crown back in place.