A missing tooth can create problems with the alignment of your jaw and for the rest of your teeth as they gradually move to fill in the blank space. Lost teeth can also affect your speech or make it hard to bite and chew.
But even more embarrassing is the social stigma that can come with missing teeth. Coworkers, family, and even employers can be critical of a person missing teeth. This leads many to try temporary tooth replacement fixes at home.
DIY Tooth Replacement Options
The Dental Health Society does not recommend trying to fix a tooth without a dentist’s help. But people do try, and an online search for DIY tooth replacement results in a number of matches. It is interesting to note, though, that most of them are advertisements for tooth replacement products, or videos demonstrating how to use those products. It’s hard to find any professional dental or scientific articles on the topic.
A few brands that are available online and in drugstores are Smile Renewed, Temptooth, Dentemp, and PrimeDent QuickFix. These are usually sold in kits that include all the materials and tools you will need. They all use similar methods that typically fall into three categories:
Some products come in the form of beads that must be melted. This forms a soft material that can be molded with your fingers into the shape of a tooth. Coloring agents might be included so you can match the color of the temporary tooth to your other teeth.
Moldable Wax or Paste
Moldable wax works like a melted polymer product, but it is ready to be shaped without melting anything. The paste, on the other hand, is mainly used for chips and cracks. It is applied to the tooth, and the user smooths it with their tongue before it solidifies into place.
This could be described as the “lowest-tech” of the methods. Orthodontic wax is usually sold to keep braces from poking into lips and gums. Small bits are stuck onto protruding wires. Some people, however, use a tooth-sized chunk to place in the spot where they’ve lost a tooth.
The Problems with DIY “Teeth”
Dentists view these DIY tooth replacement products as subpar substitutes for seeing a professional. Although many claim to look just like real teeth, the reality is that this is rare. Unless you are an artist, it is unlikely that you can sculpt something that looks like the real thing.
When considering these products, it is important to research the ingredients they use. For example, avoid putting anything in your mouth that is not FDA approved. Read the instructions and guidelines carefully. Some fake teeth products do not allow you to eat or drink when the product is in place.
Product reviews can also be misleading. No matter what some users may claim, all of these products are meant for temporary use only.
The Dentist-Recommended DIY Solution
There is one viable option for saving a missing tooth on your own. Unfortunately, conditions need to be just right to do it.
First, this works only if the tooth that’s knocked out is healthy. If the tooth falls out because of decay or if the root is dead, you will need another option.
Second, and most importantly, you need to act fast. It is recommended that you get to a dentist within 30 minutes if possible. You may be able to save the tooth if you wait longer than that, but your chances diminish as time passes.
- Find the tooth and hold it by the top, and do not touch the root.
- Clean it off gently under running water. Don’t scrub it and don’t wrap it in tissue or cloth.
- Reposition it in the gum. Hold it in place with your fingers, or bite down gently to keep it still.
- Get to a dentist right away. The dentist will hold it in place with wire or bonding material so the root can reattach.
If for some reason the tooth can’t be placed back in the gum right away, it still may be saved if it can be kept moist. A patient can try holding it in their mouth between their cheek and gum. It can also be placed in a small amount of milk. Never use tap water, as it can damage the root.
The tooth can be gently suspended in HBSS, a balanced salt solution commonly used to irrigate wounds and during surgeries. Marketed under the brand name Save-a-Tooth®, it can extend the time until it is replanted to as many as 24 hours.
Professional Tooth Replacement is Best
If your tooth is knocked out before an important event, such as a wedding or a job interview, it’s understandable that you might look for a quick, inexpensive fix.
This may seem tempting if the cost is your main concern. Just remember that all of these DIY methods are meant to be temporary solutions to replacing a lost tooth. And it’s rare to find one that is a convincing duplicate of a real tooth.
It is still better, in the long run, to save up to have your lost tooth replaced by a dentist than to try something at home. Many dentists offer payment plan options. There are also dental credit cards and other ways to finance dental work.
Professional options include implants, fixed bridges, and removable partial dentures. All can look and feel just like your original teeth.
The best thing to do for a lost tooth is to discuss your options with a dentist instead of trying to fix it yourself. Use our online search tool to find a dentist near you.