Dental problem? You don't have to be MacGyver to save a lost filling or replace a crown.
Find a Filling?
If a filling falls out, try and keep the lost piece to show your dentist.
It's also important to keep the tooth clean by brushing gently with toothpaste
and lukewarm water and to avoid eating in this area. "There are temporary
restorative materials that contain zinc oxide that are sold over-the-counter
that can plug up the hole until you see the dentist," says Warren Scherer,
DDS, the chairman of the department of general dentistry and management science
at New York University College of Dentistry in New York City. Two such products
include Temparin and Dentemp OS. These products are the same as those that can
be used to cover an exposed tooth surface.
Crowns or caps fully cover the portion of a tooth that lies at and above the
gum line. But if you lose one, you have to try and put it back in, Howley says.
Here's how: Clean it out thoroughly, and either buy paste in a drugstore or mix
your own with Vaseline and corn starch. "Mix it to be a pretty thick
paste," he says. Then, put the paste in the crown, place it on the tooth,
and bite down gently until it's seated. "Wipe off extra glue that will seep
out," he says. "It doesn't taste great."
"You can use crazy glue to replace a tooth off a denture, but that
becomes more problematic because the consumer may have difficulty refitting
that tooth," Sherer says. "If I were attending a wedding or had a
meeting with the queen, I would crazy glue my tooth in, but if I could wait a
day or so, then I would," he says. Partial dentures are mounted on a metal
frame and fill a gap left by missing teeth. Complete dentures may be worn when
all of the top or bottom teeth have been lost. They consist of artificial teeth
mounted in a plastic base molded to fit the mouth.
Gauging Gum Pain
Over-the-counter pain-relieving gels and liquids such as Anbesol and Orajel
can provide temporary relief, as can ibuprofen and other over-the-counter drugs
that relieve swelling and inflammation. But "you have to get to the root of
the problem, and sometimes you may have a gum infection brewing that may
require antibiotics," Sherer says.
Howley agrees. "If there is swelling and bleeding around the gums, see a
dentist as soon as possible because it may indicate something more
serious," he says. "You may need antibiotics, or if there is an
abscess, you may need to have it drained." This was exactly the case with
my recent dental emergency.
The good news is that if you really need a dentist (as I did), "there
are areas or facilities that you can visit over a weekend without necessarily
waiting for your dentist," Sherer says. "Regional hospitals have dental
residency programs and residents on calls and dental schools in the area have