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Broken Tooth: Care Instructions


A tooth can be chipped, broken, or knocked out during sports or a bad fall.

Your doctor may have fixed your tooth temporarily. You also may have been given pain medicine. If you had signs of infection, you may need to take antibiotics.

You will need to see a dentist. If you have chipped a tooth, it may be jagged, which can irritate your mouth and tongue. The dentist may smooth the edges and fill in the part that chipped off. A permanent tooth that has been knocked out can be put back in (reimplanted) if it is done quickly. The dentist may need to put a crown on a broken tooth to cover the tooth and hold it together. Prompt dental treatment can often prevent infection in the tooth.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your tooth pulp is exposed, you can protect it by putting temporary filling material over the broken area. You can buy temporary filling mixes in drugstores. Follow the directions on the label.
  • To relieve pain and swelling, put ice or a cold cloth on the tooth's gum or cheek area, or suck on a piece of ice. But if the tooth's nerve or pulp is exposed, avoid putting anything too hot or cold near the tooth until you see your dentist.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • To help healing, rinse your mouth with warm salt water right after meals. To make a saltwater solution, mix 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt in 1 cup (250 mL) of warm water.
  • Eat soft foods that are easy to chew.
  • Avoid foods that might sting, such as salty or spicy foods, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.
  • Do not smoke or use spit tobacco. Tobacco can slow healing in your mouth. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • If your tooth is loose, be gentle when you brush or floss. But be sure to brush your teeth at least two times a day and floss at least once a day.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.