When was the last time you decided to have a dental emergency? Never! No one plans to have trauma or damage to their mouth and teeth, but accidents happen and you need to be prepared. Knowing what common dental emergencies could occur, and having a dentist you trust will be crucial to ensuring your future dental health. While we can’t prevent dental accidents, our caring staff at Love to Smile in Overland Park is ready to be your trusted source for quality dental care. Read on to learn about common dental emergencies, and what you can expect if they ever happen to you.
Crowns are great for repairing damaged teeth, covering weak teeth, and preserving the structure of the mouth. But sometimes crowns can cause trouble, and if you have ever lost your crown it can be a frightening experience. Suddenly finding your tooth in your mouth, and a sharp, pointy place where it used to be can be disconcerting but not usually painful. As long as you have the intact crown it can usually be put back into your mouth and maybe some small adjustments can be made. If your crown falls out you want to keep it safe, but there is no special treatment that it needs—most crowns are porcelain. Crowns can get knocked out due to trauma to the mouth, tooth grinding, decay, or biting down on something too hard. Just get to the dentist as soon as you can so they can evaluate if the crown can be reinserted.
Usually a chipped tooth is not dangerous to your health, but it can seem like a cosmetic dental emergency if it is on your front teeth. If the chip is just on the surface enamel you will likely not feel any pain, but if it is a bigger chip you may have pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, and trouble eating. While a small chip may not seem like a big deal if it isn’t aesthetically bothering you, you should still get it filled. A small chip can trap food and bacteria, and weakens the tooth making it susceptible to future damage.
An abscess in the mouth is a serious issue, and if you have increasing pain in your mouth, you need to get it checked out! The two main types of dental abscesses are periapical and periodontal. A periodontal abscess affects the gums, and a periapical abscess affects the root of the tooth. The infected, or abscessed, area fills with bacteria and can be dangerous if not addressed. Thankfully, most people are driven to go to the dentist by the pain they have from an abscess—and pain will be the main symptom. You could see a small bump on your gumline if your tooth is abscessed, or a lesion on your gums in the case of a periodontal abscess. If you have either of these, get it checked out soon! If you are in a lot of pain you can take pain medication or swish with salt water to keep more comfortable. The infection will need to be cleared, and you will probably be prescribed antibiotics. A periapical abscess often results in a tooth needing a root canal, and periodontal abscesses need deep cleaning of the gum area that is done by a dentist. Don’t wait if you suspect you may have an abscess because surgery can be needed if the infection has gone to the bone. Staying current with your dental appointments can prevent abscesses from forming from a cavity or cracked tooth. If you have trauma to your teeth you should be evaluated by your dentist to ensure that no cracks have formed that could harbor bacteria.
If the you have a tooth that has had a direct hit, you should get it checked out even if there is no visible damage. You could have a root fracture, which will cause pain and discomfort even without a visible crack. If you are having pain, and especially if your tooth is suddenly sensitive to temperatures after trauma, you need to see the dentist immediately. If you suspect a root fracture, use a cold compress and pain medication to keep comfortable before you can get in to see the dentist. Again, when you have trauma to the teeth, mouth, and gums it is best to get a dental evaluation as soon as possible to find any hidden damage.
A dental intrusion is common and usually results from a fall, sports injury, car accident, or any blow to the mouth. With a dental intrusion a tooth, or several teeth, are pushed upwards into the jawbone. The force of the trauma can also injure the ligaments of the teeth and fracture the socket. The tooth may be visibly higher than the adjoining teeth, and you want to see the dentist as soon as possible to be evaluated. If a child has a dental intrusion, you may wait for the tooth to
descend naturally. If the intrusion has caused significant damage a root canal may be necessary. Using pain medication, ice, and rinsing the mouth may keep you comfortable after a dental intrusion before you can see your dentist.
Your wisdom teeth are your third set of molars that usually erupt in the late teens and early twenties. They may cause no problems until one day you are in severe pain and discomfort. If there is not enough space for the wisdom teeth to come in they may get stuck, or impacted, below the gumline. Partially erupted teeth can cause pericoronitis, and food and debris can become trapped beneath inflamed gums. Infection can result if wisdom teeth do not properly grow in, and if you are having any pain or pressure from your wisdom teeth you should see your dentist immediately. You may need to have your wisdom teeth pulled if they are infected or impacted, or if they are going to cause excessive crowding of your existing teeth. If you have had your wisdom teeth removed, you want to follow all instructions to allow your gums and tooth sockets to heal. If you have pain after an extraction, see your dentist as soon as possible.
Tooth Knocked Out
Millions of teeth are knocked out every year, and this can be a frightening situation. Children are especially susceptible to falling, having sports injuries, or sustaining trauma to their teeth. If you or your child has a tooth that comes out, act as quickly as possible to get to a dentist. Handle the tooth carefully, and avoid touching the root end. The root contains sensitive cells that could get damaged, and you want to keep the tooth as intact as possible. You can gently rinse any dirt off with water, but don’t scrub or use any soap. If possible, put the tooth back into the socket on your way to the dentist, or keep it moist. If you keep the tooth and see a dentist as soon as possible, there is a chance that the tooth can be reattached. Even if your tooth doesn’t come fully out after a blow, but is loose, you should still get it evaluated as soon as possible. You may need a crown, or an implant, if the damage is too extensive to save the tooth or the root.
If you have a dental emergency, going to the ER is not your best choice. If you are having a life-threatening situation you should utilize emergency rooms, but only a dentist will be able to address your teeth. Having a relationship already established with a dentist will give you someone to turn to if you ever face a dental emergency. At Love to Smile, we can handle any dental emergencies that you may experience and, more importantly, we can ensure that your teeth stay clean and healthy to avoid future dental problems. While you can’t prevent every dental emergency, you can choose a great dentist—choose Love to Smile today!