Spring is in the air and with it comes anxious anticipation to get outdoors and enjoy our favorite activities. But outdoor fun sometimes leads to accidents which can result in broken or missing teeth. If it happens to you there’s no need to panic, stay calm, call Ideal Dental Solutions, and follow these guidelines.
What should I do if I have a broken tooth?
If you have lost a tooth and your accident involved any head trauma that includes symptoms such as dizziness, bleeding, or severe headaches, go to an emergency room right away. Otherwise, contact us for an appointment. If your tooth is simply chipped and you’re not in too much pain, you can wait for the next available appointment. However if you’re in pain or the tooth is badly broken or missing, you should seek emergency dental treatment. When in doubt, call us and describe your situation. We will let you know whether it’s important to come in immediately.
Until you get to the dentist, take the following precautions:
- Rinse the affected area with warm water or saline.
- Apply pressure with gauze if you’re bleeding. You can also try a tea bag if the bleeding continues.
- Hold a cold compress to any swelling on your cheeks, lips, or jaw line.
- Eat only soft foods.
- If you can’t see the dentist for a while, get some dental cement to cover the break and ease the pain.
- If there’s a sharp edge, you can put dental wax on it to prevent cutting your tongue or cheek.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers if you’re hurting.
If your tooth is completely knocked out:
- Hold it by the crown (never the root!) and rinse in saliva, milk, or saline.
- If possible, put it back in your mouth between your jaw and cheek and try not to move it around.
- You can also keep it in the saline or milk, so long as the tooth stays moist.
Can my teeth be fixed?
Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of your injury. Below is a guide to the different levels of injury and what to expect, but every case is unique. The safest thing to do is to contact us immediately.
If you’ve sustained a chip in the enamel or if one of the points of a back molar has broken off, it’s usually not an emergency. You should see your dentist when it’s convenient. The doctor may use a filling material to keep the chip from growing or to polish off the rough edges.
Cracks that go through the enamel will expose the dentin, which is the darker, yellow-brown material between the enamel and the pulp. See your doctor within 48 hours to avoid damaging the nerve. The dentist will probably treat the crack with a filling, a partial crown, or a full crown.
If so much of the tooth is gone that you can see the red pulp, visit the dentist immediately. You’ll likely experience pain and bleeding, and if not treated right away, it could develop an infection. Most of the time, a root canal and crown will fix it. But in severe cases, the doctor may remove it all together.
If the tooth is still there but sitting up too high, leaning, twisted, or pushed down too low, call the doctor right away. The dentist will reposition it and may use a flexible splint, which is a small temporary brace that holds the tooth in position while it heals.
If your tooth is completely knocked out or “avulsed,” get to the dentist as fast as possible. In many cases, the doctor can replant your tooth and hold it in place with a flexible splint. If there’s too much damage, you’ll need a bridge or implant to fill the empty space. You’ll likely need a root canal once the tooth has re-set, and the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Also, if it fell into the dirt, make sure you’ve had a recent tetanus shot.
Breaking or losing a tooth is no fun, but you can decrease the likelihood of an injury by wearing mouth guards, other head protection, and seat belts. Don’t open bottles or tear things with your teeth, and don’t chew ice. If you take a few precautions, you can avoid most injuries.
When in doubt you can always call us here at Ideal Dental Solutions. Our team of dentists in Arlington Va and Tysons Corner will be happy to help you.