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Emergency Dental Care – Steps to Take When You Lose a Tooth

We all take precautions when it comes to our teeth. We brush in the morning and evening, we wear mouth guards when we play risky sports, and we go to the dentist twice a year. But sometimes, accidents happen. If you find yourself sitting on the ground with your head ringing and a tooth completely knocked out of your mouth, don’t panic. It’s possible to save your tooth, and your smile.

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Emergency Dental Care – 4 Steps to Take When You Lose a Tooth

Step 1: Retrieve Your Tooth (Carefully)

The first thing you need to do is retrieve your tooth. While the circumstance can seem scary or surreal, make sure you pick your tooth up carefully and only touch the crown (the chewing part of the tooth). You want to avoid touching the root as much as possible because that part needs to stay healthy and whole to get your tooth back where it belongs.

Step 2: Clean The Tooth (Gently)

In a perfect world, your tooth would fall out onto a clean pillow. Most of the time, though, it falls into the dirt or onto the concrete. So once you have your tooth in hand, make sure you wash it gently. Don’t scrub it, and don’t use any chemicals. Just rinse it gently under cold water until the dirt and grit that were clinging to it are gone.

Lastly, don’t wrap your tooth in a tissue or cloth. That isn’t going to help because you need to make sure your tooth, and the tissue, stay moist.

Step 3: Put Your Tooth Back in The Socket (If You Can)

As soon as your tooth is clean, you should try to put it back in the socket. Simply press it back where it belongs with your fingers, or hold it in place, and bite down slowly. The less time the tooth spends out of your mouth, the better off you’ll be.

If you can’t get your tooth back in its socket, a glass of cold milk will do in a pinch. Do not put your tooth in regular tap water, because the water will be too harsh on your tooth and the roots attached to it.

Step 4: Get To A Dental Professional (Within 30 Minutes or Less)

Once you have your tooth, you need to get to a dental emergency room. If you can get there within 30 minutes or so of the accident, there’s a good chance the dentist will be able to save your tooth, and your smile. Of course, even if you can’t make that close deadline, that’s no reason not to try. If you take the proper steps, it’s possible to save a tooth that’s been out of your mouth for an hour or more.

 

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What can you do about missing teeth?

Missing teeth can cause a number of inconveniences and issues if not treated. Chewing can be difficult, other teeth may begin to shift because of the open gap, and the adjacent teeth can become more susceptible to cavities and other problems. So what can you do?

When to seek emergency dental care

Sometimes it’s easy to know you when to seek emergency dental care, and other times it’s not so clear. A sore gum, a cracked tooth or broken tooth aren’t good signs, but are they emergencies? It’s important to know the difference between something that can wait a week, and something that needs immediate attention. Left untreated, seemingly minor problems can quickly turn into major issues.

When you need emergency dental care

Broken or Chipped Tooth – Broken or chipped teeth are usually the result of some sort of trauma — getting hit in the face by a stray ball, a fall that impacts your mouth, etc. Sometimes, a tooth can break or chip by biting down on something hard, such as nuts or a piece of hard candy. Sometimes, they’re a result of tooth decay. Whatever the reason, it’s important to get a broken or chipped tooth taken care of immediately. Left untreated, it may become infected and cause more serious or even irreparable damage to the tooth.

Cracked (Fractured) Tooth – A cracked tooth is also susceptible to infection and should be taken care of immediately. Like a chipped or broken tooth, waiting can lead to much more serious problems, even to the point of needing an extraction. The American Dental Society recommends immediately rinsing your mouth with warm water and placing a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling.

Extreme Pain – Most people suffering the extreme and relentless pain of a “toothache” don’t need to be told they need emergency care — they can’t wait to see the dentist to repair whatever is causing so much misery. Remember that pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong, and it’s not going to go away until you address the cause of the pain.

Knocked Out Tooth – A knocked out tooth is an emergency and it’s important to get to the dentist as soon as possible. If you can get yourself and the tooth to a dentist within a half-hour, the dentist can often re-implant it successfully. Longer than that, and the chances are greatly reduced. According to the American Dental Society, it’s essential to keep the tooth moist by placing it in your mouth between your cheek and gums or submerging it in a jar of milk for the trip to the dentist. If your regular dentist can’t see you, get to a dental clinic immediately!

Abscessed Tooth – An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth and is a dental emergency. Usually by the time the abscess appears, the infection has reached the tooth’s root. The abscess often needs draining before the tooth can be treated, and antibiotics prescribed to knock out the infection.

Jaw Injuries – If you injure your jaw and it swells or you have trouble opening and closing your mouth, you need to see a dentist immediately to make sure it’s not broken. Place a cold compress on your face in the interim to reduce swelling.

When a dental emergency occurs, don’t try to “tough it out” with self-treatments that will only treat and mask the symptoms. Contact your dentist immediately to seek emergency dental care.

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