Whenever your teeth are uncomfortable, it can feel like an emergency, but there are a few commonly experienced situations that do warrant pretty immediate attention from your dentist. The three most common dental emergencies are tooth trauma (chipped, broken, or knocked-out tooth), toothaches or tooth pain, and a lost filling or crown.
Have you chipped, broken, or even lost a tooth? If you’ve chipped or broken a tooth, make an appointment to see your dentist and then rinse with warm water. If you’ve got swelling, you can try applying a cold compress to your face to help. Depending on the damage, the treatment will be different: for a small chip, many times your dentist can round out the edges of your tooth or bond a small amount of resin to your tooth to recreate its natural look. Bigger chips may require placement of a crown, veneers, or a root canal procedure. If you knocked your tooth out, save it in a cup of milk (to prevent the tooth drying out) and bring it to your appointment – and hurry! The chances of saving your tooth are best within an hour of your trauma. Don’t scrub your tooth and don’t touch the root. You can also try to put the tooth back in its place and see if it will hold. If you’ve got time before your appointment, you can also rinse with warm water and apply pressure with a piece of gauze to stop any bleeding.
Toothache or Tooth Pain
Toothaches and teeth sensitivity are conditions most people have experienced. Many times, these are symptoms that the tooth’s nerve is inflamed and may indicate you have a cavity or some decay that needs treatment. See your dentist to be sure of what’s going on. Remember the best way to prevent dental problems is to practice proper oral hygiene, including brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. You may be able to temporarily relieve symptoms by rinsing with warm water, using sensitive teeth toothpaste, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, or using a cold compress to help with pain or swelling. Your dentist can recommend specific treatment based on the underlying condition causing your toothache or pain.
Lost Filling or Crown
A filling is what’s used to fill in the space after a cavity is removed, while a crown is what’s placed over your tooth to protect it from further damage or after a procedure like a root canal. It’s possible for these to come loose, for example, if you’ve applied a lot of pressure to a tooth or if there’s decay that needs treatment. If this happens to you, make an appointment with your dentist and, if possible, bring the filling or crown with you. Rinse with warm water immediately after you notice the filling or crown is lost. This is not as urgent as a tooth trauma or toothache, but you should still schedule an appointment ASAP to avoid your tooth becoming further compromised. Your exposed tooth will not be as strong as it was with the filling or crown in place.
Always remember the best thing to do if you ever have any questions or uncertainty regarding your teeth is to make an appointment with your dentist’s office. Although these common dental emergencies require prompt attention, they can typically be successfully and quickly resolved with the help of your dentist.