Damaging or losing a tooth (or teeth) can be a painful experience and in most cases require urgent care. Thankfully, there are steps you can take before seeing a dentist to minimise pain and further damage. Understanding what damage can occur as well as how to properly react to dental emergencies can help greatly.
What damage requires emergency dental care?
There are several types of damage that can occur to teeth including:
- Split Tooth
- Split Root
- Decay Induced Break
- Avulsed Tooth (A tooth that has been knocked out)
These are all treated differently and require urgent dental care.
Q: “My tooth got knocked out playing sport and went into the dirt, what should I do?”
A: If it’s an adult tooth that has been knocked out, it can be replanted. Baby teeth are not replanted. There is a greater chance of your dentist being able to replant the tooth if you see them as soon as possible. This should be within 30 minutes. The longer the amount of time the tooth is loose, the less chance your dentist will be able to save the tooth.
When retrieving the tooth, be sure to pick it up by the crown (the side you chew with) and avoid touching the root of the tooth. Use water to rinse off the tooth avoiding chemicals and soap.
Do not wrap the damaged tooth in towels or tissues. If possible, hold the tooth in the socket with your fingers or by gently biting down. If replacing the tooth in the socket is not possible, ensure that the tooth is still kept moist. The following can be done to temporarily preserve the tooth:
- Place the tooth inside your mouth against the cheek
- Place in a container and cover in milk or saliva
- Use a tooth-saving device, such as a Save-A-Tooth
Q: “How much time do I have to get to a dentist after losing or damaging my tooth?”
A: You should act quickly to reach your nearest dentist, ideally within 30 minutes for the best chance of your dentist repairing the damage. A tooth can be outside your mouth for over an hour and still be saved.
Q: “How can I tell if I have a damaged tooth?”
A: For chips and smaller breaks, you may not feel any pain at all. Your tongue may be able to feel the damage. It is common for smaller fractures not to cause pain. For example, a cracked tooth may not be painful until you release from a bite.
Larger breaks can cause damage to the nerve inside the tooth or cause nerves to be exposed to the air as well as hot and cold temperatures. This may cause extreme pain or discomfort. More substantial breaks can also cause bleeding or be visibly split.
Pain from broken teeth may arise randomly, or when pressure is placed on the tooth, such as during chewing. If the pain is constant, you may have damaged a nerve or blood vessels.
Q: “What can I expect during a broken tooth repair?”
A: Minor cracks and chips will likely only need a polish or to be smoothed out by your dentist. Larger breaks and cracks will require a crown to be placed on the tooth to restore function and will likely need root canal treatment to remove any exposed nerves.
Split tooth, split root, and decay related breaks may require the tooth to be removed.
Your dentist will try to save your original teeth as they are both stronger and more efficient for chewing than artificial teeth.
Q: “What should I not do if I lose a tooth?”
A: It’s important to remember the following if you lose a tooth:
- Do not grab or touch the tooth by the roots
- Do not attempt to clean the tooth with anything other than water
- Do not wipe the roots of the tooth in an attempt to clean them
- Do not let the tooth dry out
Q: “What should I do if I break a tooth?”
A: Do the following when you have broken a tooth:
- Rinse your mouth with warm water
- Apply gauze (or, if you do not have gauze, a tea bag) to areas that are bleeding for 10 minutes or until bleeding ceases
- To reduce pain and swelling, apply a cold pack against the cheek or lips over where the break has occurred
- See your dentist as soon as possible
Q: “Where can I go for emergency dental services?”
A: Many practices offer emergency dental care, however not all will be available for walk-in dental appointments. Duncraig Dental Village offers emergency appointments and after-hours care on select days.
In the event of an emergency, you should visit your nearest available dentist.
DV Dental has vast experience and expertise in dental implant procedures, and we are regarded as one of the leading Perth dental implants practices. When you visit DV Dental, you can be assured that we will make your dental visit as welcoming and comfortable as possible.
For any further information on dental implants or other dental matters, please visit our website at dvdental.com.au or call our practice on 9246 9911.