Types of dental emergency:
Cracked or broken teeth
Although teeth are strong, they are still prone to fractures, cracks, and breaks. Fractures, cracks, and breaks are generally caused by trauma, grinding, and biting. Fractures can be fairly painless, but if the crack extends down into the root, your child may experience some pain. If a tooth has been fractured or cracked, it will not heal and you will need to schedule an appointment for an exam.
If your child's adult tooth has fractured, cracked, or broken, here are some steps you can take at home:
Call our office.
Rinse the tooth fragment and the mouth with lukewarm water.
Apply gauze to the area for ten minutes if there is bleeding.
Apply a cold compress to the cheek to minimize swelling and pain.
Cover the affected area with over-the-counter temporary dental cement if you cannot see us immediately.
Use a topical pain reliever.
The nature of the break or fracture will determine what we are able to do. If a fracture or crack extends into the root, root canal therapy and a crown are often the most effective way to retain the tooth. In the case of a complete break, Dr. Day may affix the fragment back onto the tooth as a temporary measure.
If a baby tooth has been broken, it may not be essential to see a dentist immediately. Call our office to determine next steps.
When an adult tooth has been dislodged or loosened from its socket by trauma or decay, it might be possible to save it. If the tooth remains in the mouth still attached to the blood vessels and nerves, there is a good chance root canal therapy will not be necessary.
It is important to call our office immediately to make an appointment. In the meantime, use a cold compress and over-the-counter medications to relieve pain. Dr. Day will reposition the tooth and add splints to stabilize it. If the tooth fails to heal, root canal therapy might be required.
Avulsed tooth (tooth knocked out)
If an adult tooth has been knocked clean out of the mouth, it is essential to see a dentist immediately. When a tooth exits the mouth, tissues, nerves, and blood vessels become damaged. If the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.
Here are some steps to take:
Call our office.
Pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse it under warm water. DO NOT touch the root.
If possible, place it back into its socket – if not tuck it into the cheek pouch.
If the tooth cannot be placed in the mouth, put the tooth into a cup of milk, saliva, or water as a last resort. It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.
Get to our office, quickly and safely.
We will try to replace the tooth in its natural socket. In some cases, the tooth will reattach, but if the inner mechanisms of the teeth are seriously damaged, root canal therapy might be necessary.
If a baby tooth has been broken or knocked out of the mouth, it may not be essential to see a dentist immediately. Call our office to determine next steps.
Lost filling or crown
Fillings and crowns generally become loose because the tooth beneath is decaying. The decay causes shape changes in the teeth – meaning that the filling or crown no longer fits. If it becomes dislodged, the affected tooth may be sensitive to temperature changes and pressure.
If a filling or crown has dropped out of the mouth, make a dental appointment as soon as possible. Keep the crown in a safe place because there is a possibility that we can reinsert it. If the crown is out of the mouth for a long period of time, the teeth may shift or sustain further damage.
When we are not immediately accessible, you can clean the crown and affix it onto the tooth with a temporary dental cement, Vaseline, or even toothpaste. Temporary dental cement can be purchased at a local pharmacy. DO NOT use any kind of glue to affix the crown.
At your child's dental appointment, we will check the crown to see if it still fits. If it does, it will be reattached to the tooth. Where decay is noted, this will need to be treated and a new crown will need to be made.
If you have questions or concerns about dental emergencies, please contact our office at 517-393-8500.
Day Family Dental
Dr. Nathan Day, DMD • Dentist • Lansing, MI