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How do I Fix a Broken Tooth?

By Ron Marr
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By anon342096 — On Jul 17, 2013

Try rinsing your mouth with warm salty water. That helped me. Also, take cod liver oil. It prevents tooth decay.

By anon293703 — On Sep 27, 2012

You can get wax from any discount drug store. You use what they use for braces. Press it in after you clean your teeth because it is just temporary. Or use the temporary filling and that should do it. If you don't do this, getting food in the crack would be worse because of bacteria build up.

By anon277442 — On Jun 30, 2012

I don't know, but I want to shoot myself to remove the tooth, it hurts so much.

By LisaLou — On Jun 23, 2012

When my tooth broke I wasn't so concerned about saving the pieces as I was taking care of the pain. My nerves were exposed and that is some of the worst pain I can remember having.

Pain killers helped numb it a little bit, but I was miserable until I was able to see the dentist. She ended up putting a temporary crown on my tooth after doing whatever she needed to do to fix the tooth.

I was just so relieved to have the area numbed so I couldn't feel anything. Even when I went back to have the permanent crown put on, I had them numb me. She said some patients do it without any anesthesia, but I didn't want to take the chance.

I always dread going to the dentist for my regular cleaning, but at least that is not painful. I hope I never have nerve pain from a broken tooth like that again.

By sunshined — On Jun 22, 2012

@ysmina - I have not used any of the dental cement kits that you can buy at the pharmacy. I didn't even know they had such a thing until I read this article. If I had known about them, I probably would have given them a try.

I had no idea how to fix a broken tooth on my own, and was able to get in to see my dentist the next day. When my tooth broke, it split into two pieces.

Thankfully I knew enough to save the pieces and took them with me to the dentist the next day. He was able to use those pieces and cement my tooth back together. I hope this will be a long term fix.

I find that I favor that side of my mouth, and if I am going to be biting down on something hard, will use the side of the mouth where I didn't have the cracked tooth repaired.

By candyquilt — On Jun 22, 2012

@ysmina-- I have no idea how to fix a broken tooth at home with fillings. I have never tried them and the thought of doing tooth fillings on myself is scary.

But when I had a broken tooth last year, I did some home remedies for the pain which you might find useful. I had read on a forum that clove and oregano oil is excellent for tooth pain. I believe they have antiseptic properties as well.

So when my pain became unbearable, I put some clove oil on a cotton ball and gently applied to the broken tooth. You might want to test the oil on your hand first to make sure you're not allergic. Natural oils can be pretty strong. It didn't irritate me at all though and the pain subsided greatly. Applying cold or warmth outside of your mouth helps with the pain too.

By burcidi — On Jun 21, 2012

@ysmina-- The do it yourself fillings are a temporary fix for a broken tooth (emphasis on the temporary!) It's not a good idea to keep it in longer than two weeks.

I actually think that the putties are better because you can remove them, clean your tooth and reapply. But the fillings are similar to the fillings that dentists do, and can't be removed for cleanup. There is a high risk of infection which can develop into an abscess. An abscess is very dangerous and could even be deadly if it's not treated.

If you are sure that you can see a dentist in a couple of weeks, then it's okay to do the temporary filling. But if you can't have it removed in several weeks, don't go for it. You're better off applying some cotton with an antiseptic and putty during the day. That's my two cents anyway.

By ysmina — On Jun 21, 2012

Has anyone used one of those do-it-yourself filling kits? Is that the same thing as dental cement that pharmacies carry?

I have two chipped teeth and I won't be able to see the dentist until next week. My teeth are aching a lot despite pain relievers. I also have a hard time eating and drinking because it increases my pain.

I think it might be a good idea to do a temporary filling myself. But do these do-it-yourself fillings work well? Will it increase my risk of infection?

If anyone has experience with them, please let me know. I need to do something about my teeth, I can't stand the pain anymore.

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