Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can be painful and frightening.  Prompt treatment is usually required to alleviate pain and to ensure that the tooth or teeth have the best possible chance of survival.

Sometimes, a tooth can be fractured by trauma, grinding, or biting on hard objects.  In other situations, fillings, crowns, and other restorative devices can be damaged or fall out of the mouth completely.  If there is severe pain, it is essential to contact our office immediately.  The pain caused by dental emergencies almost always gets worse without treatment, and dental issues can seriously jeopardize physical health.

Types of dental emergencies and how to deal with them:

Avulsed tooth (tooth knocked out)

If a tooth has been entirely knocked out of the mouth, it is essential to see a dentist immediately.  When a tooth exits the mouth, tissues, nerves, and blood vessels are damaged.  If the tooth can be placed back into its socket within about an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again. However, root canal therapy likely will be necessary.

Here are some steps to take:

  1. Call the office.
  2. Pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse it under warm water.  DO NOT touch the root.
  3. If possible, place it back into its socket – if not, tuck it into the cheek pouch.
  4. If the tooth cannot be placed in the mouth, put the tooth into a cup of milk, saliva, or water as a last resort.  It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.

Lost filling or crown

Usually, a crown or filling comes loose while eating.  Once the restoration is out of the mouth, the affected tooth may be sensitive to temperature changes and pressure.  Crowns generally become loose because the tooth beneath it is decaying.  The decay causes shape changes in the tooth – meaning that the crown no longer fits.

If a crown has fallen out of the mouth, make a dental appointment as soon as possible.  Keep the crown in a cool, safe place because there is a possibility that it can be recemented.  If the crown is out of the mouth for a long period of time, the teeth may shift or sustain further damage.

We will check the crown to see if it still fits.  If it does, it will be recemented to the tooth. Where decay is noted, this will be treated and a new crown will be made.

Cracked or broken teeth

The teeth are strong, but they are still prone to fractures, cracks, and breaks.  Sometimes fractures are fairly painless, but if the crack extends down into the root, it is likely that the pain will be extreme.  Fractures, cracks, and breaks can take several different forms, but are generally caused by trauma, grinding, and biting. The nature of the break or fracture will determine the course of treatment.  If a fracture or crack extends into the root, root canal therapy and further restoration are often the most effective ways to retain the tooth. 

Dislodged/loose teeth

When a tooth becomes dislodged or loosened from its socket by trauma or decay, it might be possible to save it.  If the tooth remains in the mouth still attached to the blood vessels and nerves, there is a good chance root canal therapy will not be necessary.  


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