Our teeth are made of very strong, durable material but sometimes a tooth can break. A broken tooth can be caused by trauma such as a fall, car accident, or being struck in the mouth. Sometimes you may be chewing something hard like a piece of ice, candy, or a crunchy snack and suddenly break off part of a tooth. A tooth weakened by a large filling or by a previous trauma is particularly susceptible to this type of damage.
Whatever the cause, a broken tooth is a dental emergency and you should see your dentist as soon as possible. Most dentists offer emergency appointments to handle broken teeth and other dental emergencies, but what if you need emergency dental care after hours or on the weekend? A few dentists offer after-hours and weekend appointments, but most do not. Even if you can find a dentist on the weekend, they may not take your dental insurance and you may prefer to wait to see your own dentist during regular office hours.
If you cannot see your dentist right away and the tooth root is exposed or if you are in a lot of pain, go to the emergency room. The ER doctor will be able to temporarily cover the root and prescribe pain medication. If you don’t need to be seen in the ER, cover the broken area with paraffin wax or temporary dental filling material that you can find at your local drugstore and avoid chewing with that tooth. Tylenol or ibuprofen will help with any discomfort.
In any case, see your dentist as soon as possible even if your broken tooth does not hurt. The tooth protects the root and you will want to have the tooth restored before the root becomes infected. If you wait too long, you may end up needing root canal therapy or the tooth may need to be extracted.
Posted on behalf of Marietta Family Dental Care, P.C.
Dental emergencies are a common reason for people to see a new dentist, or to try to reach their dentist over the weekend or after business hours. Monday morning is perhaps the busiest day for dental emergencies. Many emergencydental care patients have had a dental problem over the weekend and decide to call their dentist first thing on the next business day.
How do you know if a dental emergency is something that requires immediate attention or can wait until the office opens back up? Here are some common dental emergencies and how you should react to them:
If you have an accident or trauma to the mouth that results in a tooth breaking or coming out completely, place the remaining tooth in a glass of milk or water and call your dentist immediately. Do not try to clean the tooth off. If the tooth can be placed back in the mouth you can do so very carefully and have someone call your dentist to meet you at the office.
Broken filling or crown
Old, worn fillings or crowns sometimes come out without any advance warning. Call your dentist during business hours. As long as you are not in pain you do not need to make an after hours visit. Try not to chew with the broken tooth as it could cause more fracturing and make it difficult to repair the tooth.
Toothache or Abscess
Most toothaches and dental abscesses are due to untreated decay. The best way to prevent toothaches is to regularly see your dentist for preventive care visits and have decay treated in a timely manner. If a severe toothache or abscess occurs you should call your dentist in order to prevent an acute infection, then have the tooth treated at the next treatment time that your dentist has available.
Seeing the dentist, like most routine health procedures, requires that you make an appointment sometimes weeks or months in advance, but what happens if you have a dental problem that requires urgent attention? Fortunately, most dentists leave openings in their daily schedules to accommodate patients with critical or life-threatening issues.
Many people are unsure as to what exactly constitutes a dental emergency. The American Dental Association provides a list of criteria for a dental emergency:
1) A tooth or teeth are chipped or broken
2) A tooth or teeth have been knocked out (an avulsed tooth)
3) You know or suspect your jaw is broken
4) Any type of severe, unbearable mouth or gum pain
5) A tooth or teeth are in danger of permanent loss (e.g. a loose tooth)
Other situations that qualify for emergency dental care include rips, puncture wounds, or other injuries to the cheeks, tongue, lips, or membrane of the mouth cavity.
If you are experiencing any of the above situations, then don’t hesitate to contact your dentist. Fast action is important; a time delay or 30 minutes or more increases the likelihood that the damage done to your teeth will be irreversible. For example, a knocked-out tooth is less likely to be successfully reimplanted the longer it has been outside of the mouth.
Often, when you call a dental practice, the automated phone system will allow you to select an option which will transfer you to a dental nurse or receptionist who specifically handles emergency patients. Alternately, you should chose whatever option allows you to speak to a customer service representative or dental receptionist so that you can explain your predicament.
It is a nice day, and you are outside hiking when you trip and fall, and accidently knock out a tooth. Or perhaps your teenage son is outside with his friends and a ball accidently hits him in the mouth, dislodging a tooth.
Accidental tooth dislodgement does happen, and while frightening and sometimes a bit painful, these teeth can almost always be repaired and implanted back in the mouth if seen by a qualified dentist within an hour.
In cases of accidental dislodgement, you should immediately contact your dentist for an emergency dental care appointment. At that point, you should retrieve the knocked-out tooth and place it in a glass of salt water, milk, or saliva. There should be enough fluid to cover the tooth. If possible, and if there is not a lot of trauma to the gum line or tooth, you can try placing the tooth back in the socket and driving immediately to the dentist.
Do not clean the tooth or rinse it off before placing it in the fluid. You do not want to ruin any root ends or crack the tooth by doing so. There are products on the market that you can use to store the tooth in, but it is more important to be promptly seen by the dentist then it is to buy the product.
If your tooth is just a loose from taking a hard fall, call your dentist for an appointment. Eat only soft foods or liquids until being seen by the dentist, and avoid excessive brushing or flossing of that tooth until seen. If you are your child are involved in routine outdoor activities where falling is of concern, using a mouth guard may help prevent accidental tooth dislodgement.
Dental emergencies happen every day. Sometimes it is from an sport or recreational accident, auto injury, or a broken filling. Each emergency is different as is the response. Knowing when you need emergency dental care and what can wait until Monday morning is useful if your emergency occurs when you’re out of town or over the weekend.
Small amounts of swelling the size of a pimple are symptoms of a dental abscess and should be treated in a timely manner, but they can wait a few days until you make an appointment. Large swollen areas can mean severe infection that could cause medical risks or emergencies and should be seen quickly.
Dental Crown Falling Off
If your crown has fallen off the tooth will need to be professionally cleaned and re-treated before it is cemented back on. Keep your crown in a ziplock and bring it to your dentist at your earliest convenience. If it is on a front tooth you may try creating suction with a small amount of toothpaste to wear it if you need to be seen in public.
Place the large broken part of the tooth in a cup of milk or water and proceed to your dentist office. If the chip is very small (less than 2 or 3 mm) and on a permanent tooth then you can most likely wait a few days without causing complications.
Gently rinse your tooth without scrubbing it clean and place it directly back into the socket. If you cannot place it back in, then put it in a cup of milk or water. Call your dentist immediately.
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