Managing Dental Problems At Home


These suggestions for Managing Dental Problems at Home are intended only as a guide and must be used with individual discretion.  The aim of these measures is to keep you as comfortable as possible until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended and you can see your regular dentist again.

The following is a list of non-emergency conditions, and suggestions for temporary treatment and relief of symptoms.

Sharp areas in the mouth:

Sharp tooth or area on a filling – Sometimes sharp areas can be made less uncomfortable by using an emery board (nail file) to smooth the sharp area. If you have orthodontic wax available you could dry off the area and place the wax there.

Sensitive tooth:

Rubbing a desensitizing toothpaste (for example, Sensodyne Repair and Protect or Clinpro 5000) on the area may help it become less sensitive.  Leave a “smear” of toothpaste on the area before you go to sleep. With repeated application of the toothpaste, over time, usually the tooth will become less sensitive.  Clove oil, with its anaesthetic, numbing properties can be used (a drop or 2 only) on a Q-tip or cotton ball for temporary relief.  Let it sit on the sensitive area for 5-10 minutes and then reapply it every 2 to 3 hours as necessary - be aware of its medical risks. Pharmaceutical over-the-counter medications for discomfort may help if the tooth becomes more uncomfortable.

A dental filling has fallen out or a large part of a filling or tooth has broken off:

If it is not sensitive, a viable option is to leave it for now.  If it is sensitive or sore, you can try a desensitizing toothpaste on the tooth and/or an oral pain killer such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), if you can take it.  You could also try putting some chewed sugarless gum into the hole.  Another option is a Q-tip or cotton ball, dipped in only a drop or 2 of clove oil and applied to the sore area as described above.

A temporary or permanent crown has come off a tooth:

One option is to leave it off at this time.  If it is sensitive, you can apply a desensitizing toothpaste; most likely it will become less sensitive over  time. You can try to put it back on using some denture adhesive, toothpaste or sugarless chewing gum. Some pharmacies (call first to check) have temporary cement available for home use to bond on crowns.  Make sure the crown sticks well enough that you don’t swallow or aspirate it during the night.

Sore or inflamed gums:

First, floss well to make sure there is no food lodged in the area. If this is unsuccessful, try warm salt water rinses to flush the area.  Sometimes anaesthetic gels like Orajel or Anbesol can help – these gels can be purchased at pharmacies and you must make sure you are aware of the medical risks involved with using them. Clove oil, with its anaesthetic, numbing quality can be used (a drop or 2 only) on a Q-tip or cotton ball for relief as described above.

A broken tooth on a denture or partial denture:

As long as the area is not too uncomfortable, it can be left as is for now.  If your denture or partial denture has a sharp area, you can try filing it with an emery board.  Keep your denture or partial denture out of your mouth as much as possible to let the irritated gums heal.  

A swelling around an unerupted tooth (eg. wisdom tooth):

If it is a minor area of swelling in the mouth, you can try warm salt water rinses to flush

the area – if it is getting more swollen over time, please call your dentist as you may need antibiotics.

Minor bleeding: 

If you have had an extraction recently and there is minor bleeding from the extraction socket, you can bite on a folded, lightly moistened gauze or teabag applied over the socket. Pressure on the area helps to stop the bleeding.  

A lost or broken nightguard:

One option is to try a “boil and bite” soft mouth guard from a pharmacy. Another option is to go without wearing it for the time being.

Orthondontic (braces) issues:

If you have a lost or broken retainer that you are unable to wear, leave it for now and don’t wear it. When you are able to see your orthodontist again, they will work with you to correct the issue.

If you have a loose bracket, let it hang loose on the wire and be careful eating.

If you have a sharp wire, there are a few options you can try.  If you have orthodontic wax available, you can dry the area and mold the wax around the pointy part.  Using the eraser end of a pencil, sometimes an orthodontic wire can be gently bent into a more comfortable position.

What NOT to do – avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Aspirin on gums – placing aspirin on the gums for pain relief is not advised as it can cause a chemical burn
  2. Overzealous flossing – flossing very aggressively can cause further damage to the gums
  3. Crazy Glue - do not use ever in the mouth
  4. Dremel Tools - do not use ever in the mouth

If your dental issues are not managed for the time being, using the above suggestions, please call your family dentist to investigate further.  If you do not have a family dentist, please call Kelowna CEDC for further guidance.