I had a root canal done. My dentist put in a temporary filling until I could do the dental crown appointment. I’m still a few days away from that. When I went out for a meal today I felt something grainy in my food. I think my tooth is crumbling. What do I do? I don’t want to lose the whole thing and not be able to get the crown.

Emily S.

Dear Emily,

My suspicion is it’s not your tooth crumbling, but instead the temporary filling dislodged. Take a peek at the tooth. If there’s a hole in the center of the tooth, that means you’ve lost the filling. If the shape of the tooth is changing, then the tooth is crumbling.

If it’s just the filling, don’t worry. They’re designed to come out easily so the dentist can do the needed work in time. As your appointment is only a few days away, you can just get some temporary filling material to hold you over until your appointment. It’s designed for people in just your situation. It wouldn’t last for more than a few days, but as you’re going in for your dental crown at that point, no problem. You can find them at most drug stores.

If it’s the tooth, that’s an entirely different situation. You’ll need to be seen right away. Like you said, you don’t want to lose so much tooth structure that you’ll have to get an extraction and replacement tooth. Your dentist should have an after hours protocol. Give them a buzz and there should be instructions on their voicemail.

If they don’t have an after-hours call number, then just see an emergency dentist. They’ll make sure your tooth is protected so you can still get your crown.

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