Home care for tooth awaiting its coronation?
January 9, 2013 1:55 PM   Subscribe

So, I managed to break a tooth last week (whilst attempting to chew a cold gummy licorice candy that had the approximate texture of partially-cured epoxy). Saw dentist this morning, who wants to install a crown. What, if anything, can I do between now and Coronation Day, as it'll likely be at least eight weeks out?

Some additional situation-specific details: the tooth that broke had already undergone root-canal treatment about 11 years ago. For whatever reason the dentist I had at the time back then installed a small porcelain inlay rather than a true crown. The unfortunate licorice-borne breakage occurred (as near as my current dentist can tell) due to "shearing force" which tore away some of the tooth structure around the inlay and in doing so fractured the tooth up to the gumline.

All that said, while it is certainly annoying having a jagged hole in my mouth (that for some inexplicable reason I keep compulsively sticking my tongue into), the prior root canal treatment means that I'm not experiencing any physical pain. Further treatment will basically be geared toward saving what is left of the tooth. A true crown which goes around the tooth will need to be installed, but before then I'm going to need a procedure called "crown reduction", where some of the tooth bone is whittled away so that the crown has enough space to grab onto.

I have a consultation for the crown reduction currently scheduled for 2 weeks out. After that, I'm guessing it might be a week before the actual crown reduction is performed, and then after that I have to wait 5 more weeks for the site to sort of heal before the dentist can install the crown. The idea of going that long with a screwed-up tooth that can't bite anything is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

Mind you, my dentist doesn't seem to think anything bad is likely to happen in the intervening weeks...but other than "don't chew on that side", I am curious if there's anything I could or should be doing to manage this better. I keep getting horrible mental pictures of the tooth shattering completely and me having to sit there digging bloody shards out of my jaw.

Intellectually I realize that's unlikely, but if anyone has any personal "oh I had a broken tooth for 6 months and it turned out fine!" anecdotes, that'd at least be somewhat reassuring. Beyond that, practical tips would be appreciated tremendously (e.g., best methods for applying OTC dental cement, techniques for eating pizza, etc.). Thanks!
posted by aecorwin to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Oh and one more detail: the tooth in question is the upper 2nd bicuspid, right hand side.
posted by aecorwin at 1:56 PM on January 9, 2013

There are over the counter dental repair kits.

Your local drug store should have one.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:01 PM on January 9, 2013

I'm surprised it's all taking this long. Typically you get a temporary crown the same day you get your tooth ground down in preparation for the permanent crown. So you should have something covering the tooth in two weeks after the initial procedure, and it'll feel pretty normal, and you can chew on it, albeit very gently, and you'll have to avoid sticky stuff since the adhesive won't be that strong (I recently pulled off a temporary crown by dipping into the kids' leftover Halloween candy, and had to glue it back on for 48 hours using toothpaste).

As far as the broken tooth, can't your dentist do a temporary repair to tide you over until the crown reduction? I chipped an incisor a few weeks ago (it's been an exciting couple of months, tooth-wise) and my dentist was able to patch it up the very next day.
posted by bassomatic at 2:04 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding no temporary crown? I'd expect same day or maybe next day after my initial visit. I'd ask the dentist if this is an option. Should only be a phone call to find out.
posted by zippy at 9:48 PM on January 9, 2013

OK, I've done a decent(ish) patch job with some DenTemp stuff and for now that's at least making me feel less mouth-holey. Also, minor correction: in my OP I should have written "crown lengthening", not "crown reduction"...no clue how I made that mistake, but anyway. I shall definitely inquire about getting a temporary crown! Thanks for the tips...
posted by aecorwin at 11:45 PM on January 9, 2013

I broke a part of my crown which left a hole and my tooth exposed. My dentist used some type of "hard" cement which he packed in and cured with some type of dental pen light thingy. It took minutes and should last until my appointment to get fitted with a crown three weeks out. See if your dentist can do this.
posted by loquat at 1:40 AM on January 10, 2013

It's almost a certainty that you will get a temp crown the day the crown lengthening is done. the reason there is a big time gap to the placement of the final crown is that the gums will have to heal after the CL and this might alter where the interface between the tooth and crown (called the margin) will be. typically, the final impression of the tooth that goes to the lab where the crown is made (or is done chairside by cad-cam) isnt done until the gums are in their healed position, so the margin can be hidden in the final result.
once you have the temp your hole will be gone, but care must be taken when eating things like pizza and gum, so listen carefully and follow the instructions for proper care of the temp. i know this sounds like pedantic advice, but many folks forget about a temp once it's been in that long and do unadvisable things that affect the outcome of treatment.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:51 PM on January 10, 2013

Small update: today I had the consultation with the peridontist (who will do the crown lengthening). All he basically did was look at the tooth and go, "yep, let's schedule a crown lengthening". I asked about temporary crowns and he said that I shouldn't need one following the crown lengthening, but that my regular dentist will probably install one after "preparing the tooth", which I guess can happen either before or after the CL. It was sort of confusing, but, bottom line is that for now I still have a tooth hole and I am just trying not to chew on that side. :/
posted by aecorwin at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2013

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