Defining Dental Emergencies
What if a tooth gets knocked out in an accident?
Time is your enemy when an accident or any trauma dislodges a tooth. First locate the tooth, or teeth, and determine if the tooth broke or if the entire tooth and root came out in one piece. Gather together the pieces you’ve found, and with warm water gently rinse off obvious dirt or debris. Avoid touching the root as much as possible. Place and transport the tooth in milk or in some of the person’s own saliva.
Rush the injured person and tooth to the dental office. Ideally the tooth will be re-implanted. The tooth may also be splinted with a wire to the adjacent teeth for a period of time.
This is a true dental emergency. If it is after regular business hours you should still call your dentist. The more time that goes by the less likely that the re-implantation will be successful. If you cannot contact a dentist your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Room may be able to help.
What should I do if I have a dental emergency and can’t get a hold of my dentist?
If you’re unable to reach your dentist, call Dr Kirkwood or check the local internet or yellow pages listings for a dentist or urgent care nearby. If you can’t reach any dentist, here are some helpful tips:
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Gently brush and floss the area to remove any trapped food or debris. If you can take over the counter pain medications (such as Ibuprofen) they may help in soothing the pain. Topical gels (such as Orajel) can sometimes help, but usually only a little bit and for a minimal amount of time. Make arrangements to see your dentist even if the pain goes away. Without proper care your condition could return or even worsen. (To make salt water rinse: mix 1 teaspoon table salt with 1 cup warm water).
When a permanent (or temporary) crown comes off:
Keep the area clean by rinsing with warm salt water rinses and by gently brushing the area if it is not too sensitive. Avoid leaving the crown out for more than a few days as teeth can shift, making it difficult or impossible to re-cement it at a later date. If the tooth is painful, denture cream or toothpaste can be placed inside the crown and it can be gently fit back into place.
What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?
When a tooth is lost, a whole series of events can begin to occur. Chewing on the affected side becomes more difficult and over time the remaining teeth can actually tilt and erupt into the open space.
Depending on the location of the missing tooth, we would most likely recommend either a dental implant, a bridge, or a partial denture. All of these options have their benefits and drawbacks. If you would like more information we can schedule a consultation to go over the specifics of your case.