Breaking a tooth can mean anything from a minor and largely cosmetic chip to a fractured tooth or even a tooth knocked loose and out. What to do accordingly varies just as dramatically, from cosmetic procedures that can be scheduled to making an emergency visit to your dentist. Typically falling into one of three broad categories, broken teeth may be chipped, fractured, or knocked completely out.
Chips and Fractures
A broken tooth that involves only a minor chipping of its enamel is unlikely to cause any pain that cannot be treated with over-the-counter remedies. Unless a significant chunk of the enamel is missing, the damage is cosmetic, but it can be corrected if it bothers you. A dentist can even remove the tooth, or the chip can be filled in with a kind of dental mortar. Similarly, a crack that exposes the dentin but not the pulp can probably be coated with a material similar to enamel.
If the fracture is so deep that it exposes the nerve at the pulpy center of the tooth, there will probably be associated bleeding. These serious fractures are a dental emergency and require professional attention, with sooner being better. Rinse your mouth with a warm salt water solution, hold an ice pack to your face, take a non-aspirin pain reliever, and call your dentist.
Dealing With Knock Out Blows
The more quickly you get to the dentist, the more likely it is that a dislodged tooth can be successfully re-implanted. The best way to transport a tooth to the dentist can vary depending on where you are and what is available. If you are not at home, look for a cup with an enclosure or a tissue.
An alternative is to place the tooth back in the socket and hold it there with a damp teabag. It can also be placed in a small jar and submerged in either milk or your own saliva. However you choose to transport it to the dentist, it is important that you handle the tooth by the part we see and not by the root.