Have you ever had a front tooth fall out or break off? If so, you may recall the initial feeling of panic in anticipation of the pain to follow. As moments pass by with nary a twinge, the fear of pain is replaced with the embarrassment of a gap-toothed smile. The lack of discomfort may be due to a receded nerve or past root canal treatment.
Depending on the timing and circumstances, your first impulse might be to attempt a little first-aid and fix your broken tooth yourself as a stopgap measure.
Go ahead and Google “fix a broken tooth” and you’ll see dozens of do-it-yourself suggestions on how to fix a broken tooth. But the only safe and predictable way to correct the problem of your wayward tooth is to make a beeline to your dentist or nearest dental clinic. The reality is this: Procrastinating may cause serious dental problems later on.
It’s easy to fear the worst while you’re standing there with one of your precious pearly whites sitting in the palm of your hand. And that’s exactly the position, my patient, Hank was in the other day when he called my office in a panic.
Hank has been one of my patients for quite a long time and is no stranger to dental care. He had first- hand experience with extensive dental treatment including crowns, root canal, periodontal surgery and implant dentistry long before I became his dentist. Hank is diligent about his homecare and his periodic dental visits – he brushes, flosses, and never misses his 4-month checkups. He is almost as familiar with current dental treatment as he is fastidious about his own oral hygiene.
But sometimes the unexpected just happens.
Hank became aware that a lower front tooth was loose while he was eating something soft. Strange as it seems, many patients break their teeth on soft things like a grape, a salad, even a banana. (”I swear I was just eating a banana!”). No sooner than he noticed the looseness Hank’s tooth suddenly fell completely out! It snapped-off at the gum-line.
He immediately called the office and was grateful that we said, “Come right in!”
Hank was very upset when he arrived. He was convinced the only way we were going to be able to fix his broken tooth was by placing a dental implant and crown.
What my patient didn’t realize is this – there’s more than one way to fix a broken tooth!
When he called the office, Hank was told to keep his tooth moist and to bring it with him to his appointment. When a tooth breaks off or falls out it’s important to keep it. Don’t handle it too much. Just rinse it in cold water as soon as possible and place it in a glass of milk, or water if you don’t have milk. (Make sure not to accidentally drink it!)
When Hank arrived he was filled with anxiety about what it was going to take to fix the broken tooth. But it was a beauty! The errant incisor was healthy and unblemished. It had snapped off due to excessive wear and a nerve that had receded, which rendered the tooth more brittle than normal.
Fix A Broken Tooth In One Visit?
When a tooth breaks off, it’s only natural to assume the worst: Extraction? A bridge? Or (OMG) root canal? However, sometimes the principle of Occam’s razor (the simplest solution is often the best) applies in dentistry as it does in philosophy or science.
To Hank’s surprise and delight, I fixed his broken tooth by bonding it into place and affixing it to his healthy teeth on either side – a natural bridge of sorts. And, because I had intraoral photographs of his teeth from his previous visits to the office, I was able to position the tooth in the precise spot where it previously sat.
No injections, no surgery, no implant, no crown – and the entire procedure took only a half hour.