What To Do If A Filling Falls Out or A Tooth Breaks & You Can't Get To Your Dentist

April is National Facial Protection Month. Usually, we'd focus on things like mouthguards for sports, but with dental offices shut down for all but dental emergencies by order of the State of Ohio, I thought it might be a good idea to focus on some dental issues that might come up and how you can protect your teeth until you can get in to a dental office.

If your filling falls out or your tooth breaks and you have pain or swelling, you should call your dentist. Chances are she or he will consider this a dental emergency and will make an appointment to see you if at all possible--at least to get you comfortable until definitive treatment can be done. If your dentist can't see you, she or he may refer you to a dental specialist or a colleague who can see you or be able to phone in prescriptions to help you until you can be seen. 

If your filling falls out or your tooth breaks and you don't have pain or you don't consider it an emergency, what can you do?

Most drug stores or stores with a large "drug store" department, will have a dental temporary material in the oral care aisle. (My guess is probably near the items like ora-gel etc. but ask at the pharmacy if you can't find it.) This is a putty like material that you can place in/on your tooth to protect the tooth from food getting in to the hole left behind. It's not going to be strong like a dentist's filling material, so avoid sticky foods that might pull it out (in fact, it might be best to chew on the opposite side of your mouth if you can). Also brush and floss carefully around the material--flossing especially can pull it out. If you have a WaterPik, using a gentle stream might be a better option to clean the area than flossing while you have this temporary material in. 

This material is not going to build up something like a front tooth that's lost most of the tooth structure. It might hold for a while but it's not going to have enough support to allow you to eat with it. And cosmetically, it's probably not going to match most people's tooth color, but the idea is to try to protect what's left and or cover over any sharp edges that might bother your cheek or tongue.

If at any point, you develop pain or swelling, you should call your dentist for instructions.

Other things you can do are:

  • try to keep the area clean with your toothbrush, floss, WaterPik, etc. Make sure food is cleaned out of the area.
  • rinse with warm salt water (dissolve table salt in a glass of water as hot as you can stand--swish and spit)
  • rinse with a rinse (mouthwash) like PerOxyl or an antibacterial mouthwash (make sure this claim is on the label) to try to reduce the number of bacteria present on the tooth. Follow instructions on the label for how many times per day to rinse.

*Note information in this post is not meant to replace the guidance or advice of your healthcare professionals. 

The State of Ohio is asking that dental emergency patients contact a dentist rather than going to an ER (emergency room) or urgent care center. Dentists are better able to address dental conditions than medical care centers are, and right now, the medical system is overtaxed with COVID19 issues.

Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist who treats both adults and children
1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W
Lorain, OH 44053