A badly chipped or broken tooth is something that may not be life-threatening, but it can make you pretty miserable anyway. Emergency dental care is essential when you suffer from tooth trauma like this, but what do you need to do until you can actually make it to the 24-hour dentist?
Clean Yourself Up
The first thing to do (after calling the dentist to tell them you're on the way) is to get the tooth and your whole mouth clean. This requires a simple mouth rinse using lukewarm water. As long as the water isn't cold, this should not cause extreme pain. While it won't feel great, remember that keeping the area clean will help give you the best chance saving the tooth.
Pick Up the Pieces
Quickly find the broken-off piece or pieces of tooth if possible. Often, the piece of tooth may land in your mouth, so be sure not to swallow it. With clean hands, gently extract the piece as soon as possible.
If the tooth or piece of the tooth landed outside the mouth, even if it happened to land in dirt on the ground, it is still worth retrieving it. Touch as little of the living tissue (the roots) as possible, especially if you're picking up a large piece of tooth.
Do Some Self-Preservation
Even if your emergency dentist is very nearby, you still need to preserve the piece or pieces of your tooth until you get there. While the recommendation for a knocked-out tooth is usually to place it back into position as quickly as possible, that isn't possible when you're dealing with only a piece of the tooth since it won't adhere properly.
The best way to keep the piece of tooth alive while you're on the way to the dentist is to put it in a glass of milk. Regular cow's milk, full fat only, should be used. The neutral pH balance and natural vitamins present in milk combine to preserve the very delicate cells of the tooth until your dentist can examine it.
If you take action very quickly, you may be able to save the tooth. Sometimes, your dentist can re-attach the broken portion to the intact tooth. However, you may need a dental implant, a crown, or a porcelain cap. If you find yourself in this position, don't panic. For more information, talk to an emergency dentist in your area.