A broken tooth is one of the scariest things that can happen to our patients. Whether it’s an accidental fall, an elbow to the mouth during a basketball game, or an auto accident, knowing what to do after a broken tooth can determine what happens next. If a small portion of tooth breaks off, locate the portion of fractured tooth enamel and immediately place it into a container of milk or saline (preferably not tap water). Do not attempt to clean the tooth off. Bring your broken tooth along with the soaking solution straight to our office.
Chip or Fracture?
It is not unusual for patients to classify severity differently than a dentist. To a patient, a fracture is merely a chip to a dentist. Sometimes a “chip” is an unrestorable fracture that requires removal of the tooth entirely. Without SEEING the patient, it is difficult to prepare in advance. In an emergency situation, a photo from a cell phone can help.
Entire Tooth Comes Out
A knocked-out tooth can sometimes be placed directly back into the mouth if done properly and quickly. Briefly rinse off the tooth if there is visible debris, but do not scrub the tooth clean. If possible, place the tooth back into the socket. Otherwise, place it in a cup of saline or milk. Contact us immediately.
The reason we don’t want you scrubbing the tooth clean is because often important tissues that aid in healing are still attached to the tooth. If removed, it may lead to the tooth NOT healing and requiring removal.
“Please act quickly! The sooner a broken or knocked-out tooth is treated, the better the outcome will be. For knocked-out teeth, that needs to happen within one hour. Call our office as soon as your accident occurs.”
—Dr. Lance Timmerman