Feature Archive

Do-It-Yourself Dentistry

Dental problem? You don't have to be MacGyver to save a lost filling or replace a crown.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

On their wedding day, most brides hope for sunny weather and that the photographer and band show up as planned. Not me. My wedding day wish was that my mother would not experience a dental emergency.

Seem like a strange wish for the bride? It shouldn't. Growing up, there was rarely a special occasion, vacation, or even a long weekend when my mother did not, say, lose a crown, lose a bridge, or merely require an emergency root canal.

As a result, the trip or event was cut short so she could track down her trusted dentist. Recently, I feared this was genetic when an otherwise silent (but impacted) wisdom tooth became infected as my husband and I vacationed in Florida. Fortunately, I found a local dentist who prescribed a course of antibiotics to reduce the infection until I could have the tooth extracted.

Dental SOS

Turns out it's not genetic as such dental emergencies are rather common. In most cases, however, there are things to do when you can't find the dentist - other than cutting your hard-earned vacation or leisure time short.

Like most other medical situations, an ounce of prevention and a little forethought is worth a pound of cure. "The better job you do at keeping up with the conditions in your mouth, the less likely dental emergencies are to occur," stresses Tom A. Howley Jr., DDS, president of the Academy of General Dentistry and a dentist in Perkiomenville, Pa. "If you are going to go out of the country or to a remote area, see your dentist far enough in advance so that you have time to get work done if needed."