Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies are quite frightening and can sometimes be accompanied by pain. Prompt treatment is almost always required to alleviate pain and ensure the teeth have the best possible chance of survival.
Sometimes teeth become fractured by trauma, grinding or biting on hard objects. In other cases, 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 make an appointment with the dentist as quickly as possible. The pain caused by dental emergencies almost always gets worse without treatment, and dental issues can impact your overall physical health.

Types of dental emergencies:
  • Avulsed tooth (tooth knocked out)
  • Lost filling or crown
  • Cracked or Broken teeth
How to deal with an avulsed (knocked out) tooth

If a tooth has been completely dislodged from the mouth, it is essential to see a dentist immediately. When a tooth exits the mouth, tissues, nerves and blood vessels become damaged. If the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.

Here are some steps to take:
  • Call the dentist.
  • Pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse it under warm water. DO NOT touch the root.
  • If possible, place it back into its socket – if not tuck it into the cheek pouch.
  • 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.
  • Get to the dentist, quickly and safely.

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

How to deal with a lost crown or filling

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

Here are some steps to take:
  • Call and make a dental appointment as soon as possible.
  • Keep the crown in a safe place because there is a possibility that the dentist can reinsert it.
  • If the crown is out of the mouth for a long period of time, the teeth may shift or sustain further damage.
When the dentist is not immediately accessible, here are the steps to take:
  • Clean the crown and affix it onto the tooth with dental temporary cement. This can be purchased at the local pharmacy in the dental aisle.
  • If the crown is lost, smear the top of the tooth with dental temporary cement to help alleviate discomfort.
  • DO NOT use any kind of glue to affix the crown.

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

How to deal with 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. If a tooth has been fractured or cracked, there is no alternative but to see the dentist as quickly as possible.

Here are some steps to take:
  • Call the dentist.
  • Rinse the tooth fragment and the mouth with lukewarm water.
  • Apply gauze to the area for ten minutes if there is bleeding.
  • Cover the affected area with over-the-counter dental cement if there is no way to see the dentist immediately.
  • Take a topical and/or oral pain reliever.

The nature of the break or fracture will limit what the dentist is able to do. If a fracture or crack extends into the root, then root canal therapy may be the only effective way to retain the tooth. Fractures extending to a certain limit may not be salvageable and the tooth may require extraction. If a fracture or crack does not extend to the root and a reasonable amount of tooth structure remains, a crown may be the suggested treatment option.

If you have questions or concerns about dental emergencies, please contact our office.