There is nothing more frightening or painful than a dental emergency.  In most cases, prompt treatment is necessary to alleviate pain and ensure the teeth have the best chance of surviving.

A fractured tooth can occur as a result of trauma, grinding or biting on hard objects.  It is also possible for fillings, crowns and other restorative devices to be damaged or to fall out of the mouth.  The dentist should be contacted as soon as possible if there is severe pain.  Dental emergencies almost always cause severe pain, and they can seriously harm one’s health if not treated.

Dental emergencies: types and remedies

Knocked out tooth (avulsed tooth)

You should see a dentist immediately if a tooth has been knocked out of your mouth.  It is common for tissues, nerves, and blood vessels to be damaged when a tooth is removed from the mouth.  There is a chance that tissues will grow back to support the tooth within an hour of placing it back into its socket.

The following steps should be taken:

  1. Get in touch with your dentist.
  2. Rinse the tooth under warm water after picking it up by the crown.  The root should not be touched.
  3. Place it back into its socket if possible. If this is not possible, tuck it away in the cheek pouch.
  4. If the tooth cannot be placed in the mouth, place it in a cup of milk, saliva, or water as a last resort.  Keep the tooth moist to prevent it from drying out.
  5. Quickly and safely reach the dentist.

The dentist will attempt to replace the tooth in its natural socket.  A tooth may reattach in some cases, but if the inner mechanisms of the tooth are seriously damaged, root canal therapy may be necessary.

Fillings or crowns that have been lost

It is common for a crown or filling to come loose while eating.  The affected tooth may be extremely sensitive to temperature changes and pressure once it has been removed from the mouth.  Generally, crowns become loose because the tooth beneath is decaying.  Due to decay, the shape of the teeth is altered, resulting in the crown no longer fitting.

It is important to schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible if a crown has fallen out of the mouth.  Make sure the crown is kept in a cool, safe location since the dentist may be able to re-insert it.  It is possible for the teeth to shift or sustain further damage if the crown is out of the mouth for an extended period of time.

If the dentist is not immediately accessible, follow these steps:

  1. For pain relief, apply clove oil to the tooth.
  2. Apply dental cement to the crown and affix it to the tooth.  Pharmacy stores carry this product.
  3. The top of the tooth may be smeared with dental cement if the crown has been lost.
  4. Glue should not be used to attach the crown.

In order to determine whether the crown still fits, the dentist will examine it.  If so, it will be reattached to the tooth. A new crown will be made in cases where decay has been detected.

Broken or cracked teeth

Although teeth are strong, they are still prone to fractures, cracks, and breaks.  Fractures can be relatively painless, however, if the crack extends down into the root, the pain is likely to be severe.  There are several types of fractures, cracks and breaks, but they are generally caused by trauma, grinding, and biting.  You must see a dentist as soon as possible if a tooth has been fractured or cracked.

Here are some steps you can take at home if a tooth segment has broken off:

  1. Make an appointment with the dentist.
  2. With lukewarm water, rinse the tooth fragment and your mouth.
  3. If bleeding occurs, apply gauze for ten minutes.
  4. To minimize swelling and pain, place a cold, damp dishtowel on the cheek.
  5. If you cannot see the dentist right away, cover the affected area with over-the-counter dental cement.
  6. Pain relievers can be applied topically.

A dentist’s ability to treat a break or fracture depends on its nature.  It may be necessary to undergo root canal therapy if a fracture or crack extends into the root of the tooth.  As a temporary measure, the dentist usually affixes the fragment back onto the tooth after a complete break.

Dislodged/loose teeth

It is possible to save a tooth that has been dislodged or loosened from its socket by trauma or decay.  There is a good chance root canal therapy will not be necessary if the tooth remains in the mouth and is attached to blood vessels and nerves.

Make an appointment with the dentist as soon as possible.  To relieve pain, apply a cold compress and take over-the-counter medications.  In order to stabilize the tooth, the dentist will reposition it and apply splints.  It may be necessary to perform root canal therapy if the tooth fails to heal.

Please contact your dentist if you have questions or concerns about dental emergencies.

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