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What are the Best Ways to Treat a Broken Tooth?

Use sterile gauze to absorb any blood that might be present with a broken tooth.
A broken tooth may cause tooth pain.
An ice pack can reduce swelling and pain from a broken tooth.
A broken tooth should not be self-treated.
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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2014
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While it is possible to self-treat for some illnesses or injuries, a broken tooth is not one of them. Unfortunately, accidents frequently occur outside of typical dentists’ office hours. If tooth decay or an injury results causes a break, you need to know what to do until you can get to a dentist.

You can end up with a broken tooth in several ways. The two main culprits are tooth decay and injury and they can lead to chips, fractures, and breaks, which can sometimes create real problems. While a broken tooth often causes pain, it may not, depending on the extent of the damage. If there is pain, you may wish to apply an ice pack — but only use ice outside the mouth — to help reduce swelling and ease tooth pain. Using ice inside the mouth could create more pain especially if there is nerve damage. You can also take over-the-counter pain reliever.

Bleeding may occur as well. Place sterile gauze inside the mouth, gently packing it around the tooth. Bleeding should only last for a few minutes. Be sure to rinse your mouth gently once bleeding stops. If bleeding is heavy or continues for more than 10 to 15 minutes, consider calling the emergency room for advice.

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Even if there is no bleeding or pain, there are certain steps you should take to protect your tooth until you can receive treatment. If the broken piece or pieces can be collected, rinse them carefully and be sure to set them aside in a safe place. Your dentist may be able to use them to repair the broken the tooth.

A dentist examines a patient's broken tooth.

It’s not a good idea to attempt to reconstruct a broken tooth yourself. However, after rinsing your mouth well and setting aside the pieces, you may be able to cover or fill the hole with a temporary treatment until you can get to the dentist. Many drug stores and pharmacies sell small containers of dental cement that can be used for temporary treatment. This option is not recommended for long-term use as infection may develop.

If the break is not serious, very little if any treatment will be required. It’s still a good idea to see your dentist and let him or her decide the best course of action. Minor chips or fractures may simply require a bit of filing and polishing, while somewhat larger breaks may need to be cemented. If the break is serious, it may need to be extracted or you may need a root canal.

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myharley
Post 7

My mom is the type of person who tries to treat herself with home remedies and natural solutions. When she broke a tooth, she bought some of the cement at the drug store to help repair broken teeth.

This did work for awhile, but she thought it would be a long term solution and never made an appointment with her dentist because she didn't have any insurance.

She eventually began to have a lot of pain and her broken tooth ended up getting infected. She would have probably saved more money by having her dentist taking care of it right away instead of waiting and trying to do it herself.

honeybees
Post 6

I ended up having a root canal done on a tooth that was broken. This tooth had been causing me pain for a few months and I tried to avoid eating on that side.

There must have been a small crack in my tooth that kept getting worse until it finally broke. My dentist said he could do a broken tooth filling as a temporary fix, but there was more damage done than that, and I needed a root canal.

The process of the root canal was worse than the broken tooth, but I know if I didn't have the root canal done, it would continue to get worse. I learned my lesson, and the next time I have problems with a tooth, I won't put off being seen by my dentist.

John57
Post 5

I never realized if your tooth broke into small pieces that you were supposed to keep them. It does make sense how the dentist might be able to use them again, but I would have never thought about doing that.

I know this sounds kind of gross, but when I broke a tooth, I accidentally swallowed the pieces. I didn't even realize this had happened until I was done eating.

At first I didn't even realize anything was wrong, but later felt a hole in my mouth and realized my tooth was broken. I didn't have any kind of pain but called my dentist for an appointment as soon as I could get in.

It sounds like there can be a wide range of pain, or lack of pain, when it comes to broken tooth symptoms. I was lucky that my broken tooth didn't cause me any pain at all.

julies
Post 4

More than once I have wished they had some kind of emergency room treatment specifically for dental problems. It seems like when I have a problem with my teeth that needs care right away, it always happens when the dentist is not open.

My dentist is good at working people in if immediate treatment is needed, but sometimes there needs to be something done for the pain before then.

I got a broken tooth when playing basketball. I didn't see a ball coming, and it hit me hard on the top of my head, which caused me to break a tooth. I immediately had pain and knew it was going to be a long night

I took some over the counter pain medication which helped a little bit with the pain and throbbing, but I didn't get much sleep that night. Thankfully my dentist was able to fix my broken tooth the next day, and I hope something like that doesn't happen again.

discographer
Post 3

I chipped my tooth three days ago and I haven't been to the dentist because I don't have insurance. To help with the pain, I've been dental cement to cover the chipped tooth. I think I must have exposed a nerve there because of the chipping. The pain seems to get worse when it's exposed to air and water. Keeping some dental cement on it helps. I remove the cement every night, clean it and then put a new piece in the morning. I'm hoping that this will keep infections out.

Do you think it'll be okay if I keep doing this for several more weeks until I can see a dentist? I don't want to make things worse by treating myself, but I really can't afford the dentist right now.

ysmina
Post 2

@feruze-- I wasn't so lucky, my broken tooth was really bad. I could see the root of my tooth! It bled for sometime, I put pressure on it with a cotton for close to ten minutes. But the pain was just unbelievable, I couldn't move my mouth or talk. I took some pain reliever, an hour later, the pain was the same. It didn't help at all.

I finally called the emergency nurse line at my college. She told me to get a peroxide mouth wash and swish it around for a few minutes without swallowing. I got a friend to give me a ride to the pharmacy, picked up the mouthwash and used it as soon as I got home. In about ten minutes, the pain seemed to be less. I had to do that one more time before I went to bed so I could fall asleep.

If anyone has as much pain a I did when I broke my tooth, I also recommend using a peroxide mouth wash. It's not a broken tooth treatment, but it makes the pain tolerable until you can see a dentist.

bear78
Post 1

When my brother was young, he was quite the troublemaker. He would get in fights with other kids almost daily. One day he came home with a broken tooth.

It was late and we couldn't take him to the dentist that night. Thankfully, it wasn't bleeding and all he had was pain. So my mom put some liquid pain reliever on the tooth. It's the kind of pain reliever that pharmacies sell for toothaches. He spent the night that way and we took him to the dentist in the morning for broken tooth repair.

They cleaned and polished the tooth and then placed a dental crown on it. When we came home, my dad couldn't even tell which tooth he had broken. It looked good as new. My brother hasn't needed any more work on it since then.

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