How Much Time Do I Have Before My Broken Tooth Has to Be Repaired?

My dentist likes to joke with me because I never go in unless it’s an emergency. He keeps telling me that I should just get my work done and I won’t get so bad next time and I know he’s right, but the truth is, I’m just not the type of person who goes to the dentist. For the most part, I do just fine and I can nurse along a hurt tooth for quite a while, but over the past week or so little bits of one of my molars has been breaking off almost daily. It doesn’t hurt yet, but I know it’s coming. How much time do you think I have before it becomes a dental emergency?



Dear John,

Jimmy Buffett’s song “If the Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me” could be your anthem. While it’s wonderful that you have such a good relationship with your dentist, it really should be a continual, regular one, because unfortunately, there’s no way to know how long a tooth in need of repair can go before it becomes a dental emergency.

The most common reason for a tooth to start breaking down as yours has is decay. Originally, it may have only needed a simple filling, but if you’ve now lost significant tooth structure, you’re probably looking at a crown. It’s possible it also requires a root canal or will in the very near future. You do not want to wait until you’re swelled up like a chipmunk before seeking treatment.

There are many reasons why people put off dental treatment. For some it’s fear, for others it’s finances or habit or any other number of reasons. Whatever your reason is, please speak to your dentist so you can work together to find a solution.

You could always seek out the advice of a fortune teller to determine how long the tooth can go before it causes you serious problems, but the best thing you can do is to get treatment before it becomes a real dental emergency. After all, even Margaritaville isn’t much fun with a toothache.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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