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Article: Coping with Dental Emergencies: broken dentures and crowns (caps) that fall out DR. JERRY GORDON
The most likely dental emergency for denture wearers is a chipped denture tooth or one that has broken off. If you have a spare denture (all denture wearers should have one), use it until you can go to the dentist and have it fixed.

Many senior citizens are using full or partial dentures and have one or more teeth protected by crowns (caps). Dentures are removable oral prosthetic devices that replace missing teeth. A crown is a porcelain and gold tooth replica that is fastened over a damaged tooth to protect it and restore its natural appearance. Both dentures and crowns can cause dental emergencies for both seniors and non-seniors alike.

Dentures are more common in senior citizens because they were more likely to first encounter dental problems at a time when extraction was the treatment of choice for dental pain. This appears to be especially true of seniors who served in the military. After many teeth are extracted, dentures are a common method of replacing them.

The most likely dental emergency for denture wearers is a chipped denture tooth or one that has broken off. If you have a spare denture (all denture wearers should have one), use it until you can go to the dentist and have it fixed. If you do not have a spare and cannot get to a dentist soon, use cyanoacrylate (Krazy Glue) to carefully glue the tooth or tooth piece back into position. This is only a temporary measure until you can get to the dentist for a proper repair. Also, you may consider using a dental lab for a simple denture repair if no dentist is available.

If your whole denture breaks in half, use your spare and get to the dentist immediately. Some people may attempt to use cyanoacrylate to repair it, but it is very unpredictable, and generally not strong enough to hold the denture together.

In the last 25 to 30 years, there has been a concerted effort by the dental profession to save teeth when possible using root canal therapy or with treatment of the gums. Modern dental treatment will reduce the need for dentures, allowing most people to keep their own teeth for a lifetime.

Senior citizens are also likely to have one or more crowns. Crowns are required to rebuild teeth that have been worn down, broken, have had root canal therapy, or have had multiple dental repairs over many years. Crowns are precision made and cemented on top of the tooth. Occasionally, the crown comes off. This leaves the tooth unprotected, and often sensitive. You can temporarily remedy this problem by using temporary dental cement found at the drug store, and carefully re-cementing the crown. This may not be necessary if you can get to the dentist within a day or two. Never wait more than a few days to get a crown re-cemented. Teeth move and shift very quickly without the crown in place. Sometimes it is not possible to reuse the crown if the teeth have shifted significantly, requiring the dentist to have to make a new crown.

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Dr. Gordon is the dental columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times. He has published more than 300 articles since 1998. Dr. Gordon was recently asked to provide commentary about mid-level providers for the influential dental journal Dental Abstracts.

Dr. Gordon responds to an article in Dental Abstracts challenging his views.

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