What to Do If You Chip or Break a Tooth

Emergency Dentist in San Diego

During the summer months, dental emergencies like chipped or broken teeth are extremely common. Especially with water activities, sports, and people getting outside to enjoy the warm weather. If you do chip or break a tooth, here’s what you need to know:

Apply Pressure if There is Bleeding

Our mouths are highly vascular, so they bleed extremely easily when any sort of trauma occurs. Using a clean cloth or facial tissue, apply firm pressure to the area until the bleeding stops. Severe facial bleeding with suspected broken bones should be seen immediately at the nearest emergency room. Otherwise, minor to moderate oral injuries and chipped teeth can be treated at our San Diego dentist’s office.

Locate the Broken Tooth Fragment (And Handle it With Care)

Properly caring for chipped or broken tooth structure will “make or break” how successful the treatment will be. When possible, try to find the piece of the tooth that broke off. If it’s only a tiny sliver, it won’t matter. But larger pieces of the tooth can sometimes be reattached. If your entire tooth is knocked out, make sure you don’t touch the root or attempt to scrub it clean. Doing so will permanently damage the microscopic fibers that aid in reattachment. Only handle it by the crown (the part you see above the gums.) When there is visible dirt or debris, you can gently rinse the tooth off. Just make sure it doesn’t get rinsed down the drain. Consider placing a large bowl or hand towel underneath as you’re rinsing it off.

Store the Broken Tooth Properly

The second most important step in handling a broken tooth is knowing how to store it before you get to our San Diego dentist’s office. It needs to remain moist, but only certain liquids are appropriate. You can use:

  • Milk
  • Contact solution
  • Saline

If none of these are available, use tap water but add a pinch of salt. Make sure the tooth or tooth fragment is fully submerged and that you keep it in a sealed container, like Tupperware or something similar. Even a contact lens case will work. A plastic zip-top bag may also work, as long as it is watertight. Bring the tooth to our San Diego office immediately. For the best results, broken teeth need to be reattached within the first hour, if not two hours at the longest. Especially if the tooth is fully avulsed (knocked out.)

Home Remedies to Reduce Chipped Tooth Pain

Although there’s nothing you can do to repair a broken tooth with home remedies, to reduce chipped tooth pain you’ll need common pain relievers like Motrin (ibuprofen.) Anti-inflammatories work best to ease the sharp nerve pain coming from inside your tooth. Always take the medication as prescribed. If anti-inflammatories are not available, Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be taken instead. Clove oil is also extremely helpful for managing tooth pain. Place a few drops on a cotton ball and apply it to the tooth that hurts. Clove oil has numbing properties and is frequently found in many dental materials still today.

Treatment Options for Chipped Tooth

Based on the extent of damage, we may recommend: Bonding the tooth back in place. Depending on the status of the tooth fragment, it may be possible to cement the tooth back together. Placing composite bonding over the fractured area. Small chips can be covered over with tooth-colored composite bonding material (similar to what’s used in white fillings.) Using a larger restoration for added reinforcement. Options like onlays or full-coverage crowns repair badly-broken teeth to prevent the need for an extraction. Sometimes root canal therapy is also necessary if the fracture extends into the nerve chamber. A crown will help distribute biting pressure across the remaining tooth structure so that you can eat normally.

Emergency Dentist in San Diego

Have a chipped tooth and need an emergency dentist in San Diego? Fifth Avenue Dental Arts can help. We encourage you to contact us immediately to explore same-day treatment options for chipped tooth structure before complications arise.

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