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A broken tooth is not like a flat tire or a lost button; you can’t just change it or sew on a new one. The only true way to fix a broken tooth is to call a dentist, hope for a quick appointment, and allow him or her to perform the repair. In some cases, a broken or chipped tooth might not involve any discomfort. At other times, especially if the nerve inside the tooth has been exposed or damaged, the pain can be considerable.
A dentist will most likely suggest several immediate steps that can be done to prevent further harm to the broken tooth. Until he or she conducts a full examination, the dentist won’t know if the break was caused purely by accident or if decay was a contributing factor. He or she may need to install a cap, crown, veneer, or filling. The dentist may need to do a root canal, or send you to an oral surgeon. The list of possible causes and repairs is lengthy, but the steps that should be taken while waiting for a dental appointment are simple.
If the tooth has suffered a severe break and you feel pain, the nerve is likely exposed. To avoid irritating it further, you should avoid foods and liquids that are excessively hot or cold. If possible, save the pieces of the broken tooth, rinse them off, and keep them on ice. There is a chance, if the break was relatively straight and clean, that a dentist can cement the pieces back together. It is usually better to fix a broken tooth than to install a porcelain or ceramic replacement.
While a dentist may be able to fix the problem, it is up to you to guard against infection. After the injury takes place, rinse your mouth with warm water. The gum area around the tooth might be bleeding, in which case you should press a piece of gauze or cotton into the wound until the bleeding stops. If it refuses to stop, or becomes worse, you should head for the hospital emergency room.
To stave off swelling, apply an ice pack or cold compress to your cheek and lip in the area of the break. Taking an over-the-counter pain killer or anti-inflammatory medicine will also dull the ache. If a dentist can’t see you immediately, most major pharmacies carry “do it yourself” filling kits. These self-applied putties will not fix the tooth, but they will cover the break and may make life bearable until your appointment.