One of the scariest dental issues an adult can have is a loose or knocked out tooth. Typically coming as a result of some kind of emergency or trauma, adult teeth that are damaged need to be taken care of properly with the help of a dentist or endodontist.
Regardless of the circumstances that led to the damaged tooth or teeth, there are a number of steps you must take to reduce your risk of permanent damage moving forward. Starting from caring for the damaged tooth, to a dentist’s repair, and then long term care moving forward, these steps can ensure that you do not have problems later in life.
Dental Trauma and The Results
Many of the issues covered in this post occur as a result of dental trauma. Examples include car accidents, sports injuries, or victims of violence. This trauma can cause a number of issues, the most common being a chipped tooth. Less commonly, but more seriously, you can encounter knocked out or avulsed teeth, dislodged or impacted teeth, or even root fractures.
These injuries are all variations of the same impact type injuries where the tooth or surrounding structure is damaged or knocked out. If left untreated, the tooth and surrounding structures can become permanently damaged or even die. In these cases, it is almost always crucial to get to an emergency dentist or endodontist as soon as possible, hopefully within the hour of the injury.
Caring for Damaged Teeth
Having a tooth knocked out is a very serious condition. The most important thing to do is to go to a dental professional as soon as possible. However, there are steps you can take to try and make sure the tooth is saved and won’t be harmed long term:
- Do not touch the root of the tooth, touch only the part that would be exposed to the air normally
- Put the knocked out tooth in a glass of milk
- If the tooth is dirty, clean it with milk first
- If you don’t have milk, keep it in your mouth trapped between your cheek and gums
- Try carefully slipping the tooth back in its socket if it’s not too painful. While it won’t stay affixed, it is the best way to “transport” the tooth until the dentist can treat you
Long Term Treatment of Damaged Teeth
Chipped teeth can be relatively easy to fix, depending on the size of the chip and its location. Your dentist may elect to use a filling instead of the broken-off piece depending on the situation. Whatever the damage might be, your dentist will give you a detailed plan to fix the area, and walk you through how to care for that damage in the future.
Typically, a knocked out tooth requires a root canal to fix permanently. While the tooth can bond back with the bone, the blood vessels surrounding it cannot survive and usually die regardless of how long the tooth has been knocked out.
Depending on whether there is any damage to the surrounding bone and gum, such as with an impacted tooth, your dentist may elect to fix those areas first and let them heal before working on the tooth. In the meantime, the knocked out tooth will be temporarily affixed to your mouth without permanent bonding. Based on the treatment plan your dentist comes up with, you will have to go through a few visits before the tooth can be permanently reinstalled in your mouth.
With the many advances in dental medicine, there is a high threshold for damage that can be repaired by a dentist or endodontist. The most important thing when faced with dental trauma is to get to a dental professional as soon as possible, and to care for the tooth properly in the meantime. It’s important to note that most ERs are not equipped with the proper technology or training to treat dental emergencies. The best they can do is treat pain and send you home to visit a dentist as soon as possible.
With modern medicine and the proper steps taken following trauma, your dentist can repair your injuries and restore your smile. If you have more questions about damaged teeth or need to understand more about what to do in these situations, contact us at Cardinal Family Dental today!