My tooth broke recently, please share some advice with eating and what I should about it..
May 16, 2011 3:42 AM   Subscribe

My tooth broke recently, please share some advice with eating and what I should do about it....

So... my tooth (one further back than my left K-nine) already had a deep filling in in the centre of it, broke a few days ago. It wasn't the filling that broke though, the filling is still there and it was half of my tooth that broke off.

Coincidently, I had a dentist appointment this morning and asked him about it then. He said he couldn't do anything about it today but said I would either need it pulled out or have a a crown put on it.

My first question is what should I do about my tooth... should I have it completely removed with a gap left over (which wouldn't show when I speak or smile) or get a crown? (Taking the tooth out would cost me nothing and a crown would cost me £150 - I'm not not wealthy, but I could afford it if necessary.)

My second question is how can I eat with it? It hurts when I drink anything other than water and it's really sensitive even when my tongue touches it. Getting it either removed or having a crown put in it requires a 6 week wait (for an appointment); is there a better method of eating than tipping my head sideways when I put a spoon or fork into my mouth?
posted by sockpim to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
First thing, get yourself some oil of cloves at the chemists. This is for the pain. While you're there, pick up a toothbrush with softsoftsoft bristles and Sensodyne toothpaste. This is so you'll be able to breathe out near other humans... And finally, salt for dissolving in tepid/warm water for rinsing. You'll need to do that regularly.

Food: nothing sweet, nothing hot, nothing cold, nothing hard. Soups, stews, pastas, slow-cooker meals at tepid/warm temperatures are your friends. Don't attempt anything larger than your pinkie fingernail. Don't attempt a straw. You'll hit the one spot you want to avoid - and the pain will be like an electric shock. You're gonna lose some weight.

Finally: CROWN. Always save as much of your own teeth as you can. In the fullness of time, you might need that stubbie to help anchor a bridge or somesuch. A gap is a gap, gone is gone. It may not be immediately visible, but your teeth will shift around a tad over time and you'll end up with small gaps in more visible places. Will also affect how you chew your food, and thus a host of other things. So you don't want it pulled and just leave the gap. If you think £150 is bad, you certainly can't afford an implant.

Can you tell I recently went through this?

This is what helped me and what I decided to do based on what was told me. But I know there are a number of dentists here on MeFi, and hopefully a few are European (dental care is different in the US) and can give you the tech specs.
posted by likeso at 4:17 AM on May 16, 2011

I broke my front tooth when I was young, and just for good measure re-broke it a few more times over the last 25 or so years. First, the technology is way, way improved over when I first broke it. Obviously as a front tooth I chose the repair and not having it pulled, but I've been very happy with that choice. It's not a particularly painful or onerous procedure, and the technology now creates really strong, natural-looking bondings to what's left of the tooth. (I haven't had to have mine messed with in at least 10 years now, so I'm sure the technology is even BETTER.) I'd also be reluctant to have my teeth shifting around the gap, especially after what my parents paid for orthodonture.

It hurts like a mofo because of the exposed nerve. First, and from experience, the pain will probably reduce somewhat as the nerve gets more used to being exposed. (This is a bad answer.) The GOOD answer is to call your dentist back -- or call an emergency dentist -- and get a temporary fix from your dentist. I don't know what's appropriate for you, but I have experience with a "paint on" clear coating the dentist does in the office (with a tooth I have that's got a funnily-worn bite surface and a bit of exposed nerve). The coating lasts me 12-18 months and is a bit ARGH-y right when he does it but the day after I no longer notice that tooth at all and the pain is gone. (For me, in the U.S., this is a $70 office visit and application, including cost of stuff, and is covered by insurance.) There are also prescription and OTC versions of similar products that you apply with a Q-Tip or little applicator and basically paint or rub on top of the tooth to numb the nerve. These would not last as long or give the same level of relief but they would help (and they are cheaper).

There may be reasons they DON'T want to use a semi-permanent paint-on coating (maybe it interferes with capping? I have no idea), but you should at least be able to get the temporary Rx or OTC products to reduce the nerve pain, as the ones I have experience with last from a couple days to around 6 weeks.

And brush with sensitive toothpaste ... regular toothpaste is pretty abrasive and can be waaaaay irritating to sensitive bits. Sensitive toothpastes will help.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:21 AM on May 16, 2011

Mine was pulled. I barely miss it.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:41 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am missing all four teeth in that position (directly behind the canines). I had a genetic thing that meant I had no adult teeth in those positions, so my baby teeth got pulled out when I was about eight, and since then I've just had gaps. No one can see them unless I open my mouth really wide and shine a flashlight in or something. The only time I ever notice the gaps at all is when semi-popped popcorn kernels get stuck there. So I don't see any real reason to get a crown rather than have it pulled.
posted by lollusc at 6:18 AM on May 16, 2011

I'm also happy with the non-tooth gap in my mouth. All the teeth I get fixed just keep on breaking, whereas that one has never given me further trouble :)
posted by Meatbomb at 6:32 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Crown! Sorry to all you gappers, but likeso's statement that over time your teeth will shift to fill in spaces, resulting in over-all messier looking teeth is correct for most people. I can understand pulling it if you have mouth full of problematic teeth (or some other reason that makes a crown not-worth-it), but ultimately, if the issue is just the money - spend the money. 150 pounds isn't nuthin, but its also not such a huge amount that 15 years from now when your teeth are all wonky that you'll look at your mouth and think "that was worth it, keeping that 150 pounds really made a difference".

(For those of you who do have gaps - its good that they aren't a huge problem for you, but if you could choose between having a gap and not having a gap, wouldn't you want a non-gappy mouth?)

Caveat: i'm canadian, and i think we have somewhat different expectations of teeth and dentistry in north america than in the UK, so potentially my opinion reflects that and isnt as relevant in the UK, where perfect teeth aren't as big a deal.
posted by Kololo at 7:11 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would vote crown too. I mean, yea, you can live without it, but the longer you can preserve your own teeth the better.
posted by cabingirl at 8:28 AM on May 16, 2011

The ideal short-term thing is to let your tooth die and/or have it removed.

But yes... the long-term thing, supposedly, in terms of health and in terms of other teeth, is to crown. Since the wait is so crazy, why not make an appointment now? You can always cancel.

I will point out that humanity went for centuries with missing teeth! (Many of us still do. I have small remnants of one of my teeth, and it's most likely taking care of itself. Unless it gets infected suddenly and I die or something!) But also, you know, the life expectancy before modern dental work was also 37 years, so.

Meanwhile: advil. And also a topical tooth pain thing can be helpful.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:38 AM on May 16, 2011

I had a back tooth pulled when I was in my early twenties, about 15 years ago. I've often wished I'd had the option to have a crown instead. The space hasn't filled in over the years, and some things I eat get stuck in the space and require manual removal, and I also feel that the teeth next to the space get stressed by chewing in a way they wouldn't if I had a tooth there.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:25 AM on May 16, 2011

I have a gap, I'm a little self conscious if I think about it but mostly it doesn't bother me. The two teeth in front of the gap are super tight, it's only been three years but they haven't grown apart at all, I kinda wish they would just a hair (touch wood). I found that in the US emphasizing that you were in extreme pain got you bumped up the list for having it pulled. I went a week without really eating or sleeping well, it was terribad.
posted by anaelith at 9:56 AM on May 16, 2011

Nthing getting a crown. Do they have temporary dental filling at the chemists? The brand names in the US are Dentemp and Temparin. If so, get some and follow the instructions on the package.
posted by brujita at 10:04 AM on May 16, 2011

You are probably going to need a root canal in addition to the crown. If you get the root canal done first, you can wait on the crown for a while and not have to worry about the tooth hurting when you eat and drink.

(Please note: If you don't get the root canal first, you may still need to get one after the crown is on, which could require drilling through the crown, which can result in the crown shattering and needing to be replaced. Delaying the root canal also raises the risk of infection, swelling and extreme pain.)
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2011

Seconding the temporary filling (may also be labeled as dental amalgam) - here in the US it's a kind of putty you roll up a small ball of, stuff it into the gap, bite down on, and avoid eating or drinking for a bit till it sets. I carried a tube around for a couple of weeks - the amalgam came out twice I think, but it really made the time more bearable, basically shields the exposed nerve. gives me this, basically the stuff we're looking for.
posted by pupdog at 12:07 PM on May 16, 2011

Sorry, I forgot to mention that I'm based in the UK. Thanks for all of your answers (at RJ Reynolds: the reason I didn't book one was because I have to pay for it when I make the appointment.)

As for the future thing; I am only 21 years old, so I think I will go and make an appointment tomorrow for a crown to be done.

Thanks again,

posted by sockpim at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2011

Crown! Yes.

When I had something very similar (right down to breaking just before my dentist appointment), they were able to do a temporary crown that day, which really helped with pain. (Also with that annoying thing where I could not stop poking the jagged tooth edge with my tongue.)

Maybe it's not an option for you, based on the specifics of your broken tooth. But if you're going to call anyway, maybe worth asking if there's anything they can do you for you temporarily while you wait for the new crown?
posted by Stacey at 3:33 PM on May 16, 2011

I'm in the UK and have done something similar, had a root canal and an awesome crown. I spent a fortune on it (more like £450), but it was a seriously good idea - I use this tooth for a lot of eating. My new dentist thinks that the crown could last a good long while yet, which is quite pleasing.

In the meantime, the pain wears off slightly - should be enough so that you can eat on the other side of your mouth. And, the best painkiller you can get is Nurofen plus (ibuprofen and codeine), which is available over the counter.
posted by plonkee at 3:57 PM on May 16, 2011

Can you get orthodontic wax like this in the UK? You can stick a glob of it over the broken side of the tooth to prevent cold/hot beverages from setting off the pain and to keep food from gumming up the works. You just have to be sure to chew on the other side of your mouth. I know it says it's for braces, but my dentist gave me some when I had a cracked tooth and it worked wonders.

I so feel your pain. I hope everything works out well.

Stupid teeth.
posted by miss patrish at 7:58 PM on May 16, 2011

I can get the wax in the UK... How would I use it though...? I've tried using some temporary filling stuff that usually works wonders, but where it is, it's subject to a lot of moisture all the time and my tongue snagging on it.
posted by sockpim at 2:01 PM on May 17, 2011

Sorry to take so long responding. If you still need to know, i.e., if your tooth isn't all fixed up already, when you stick the glob of wax on the broken side of the tooth, you'll need to try to smooth it out all around as best you can so it kind of sort of blends in ithe the tooth and doesn't interfere with your tongue any more than absolutely necessary. It will, however, be noticeable; not much to do about that. Like I said, chew on the other side of your mouth, and if you have to prod at the wax with your tongue (and who wouldn't?), try to just touch it lightly, as if you're checking it's still there or something. Carry extra wax with you--you only need such a small piece--in case you dislodge it.

Good luck!
posted by miss patrish at 6:07 PM on May 18, 2011

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