What exactly can we do to prepare for something like an unexpected injury? It depends on the specific situation.
If an injury results in a broken, chipped, or cracked tooth, the best thing to do is head straight to the dentist. If you can find the broken pieces, bring them along in a glass of cold milk to protect them. It’s also okay to rinse your mouth with water.
Even if a crack or chip seems minor, don’t ignore it! If the damage reaches the pulp chamber, it puts the tooth in serious danger of infection. Even if it doesn’t, it can work like a cavity and give bacteria a space to grow until it does reach the pulp chamber. That’s how dental infections start, leading to pulp death, painful abscesses, loss of bone tissue in the jaw, and even the risk of the infection spreading to the bloodstream.
If the whole tooth gets knocked out in one piece, this, too, is a situation that requires immediate attention from the dentist. There is a limited window (not much longer than an hour) in which a knocked out tooth can be successfully replanted, so the faster you get to the dentist, the better its chances are. To give it its best shot, put it back in the socket on the way there and hold it in place with a washcloth or gauze. If that isn’t possible, store it in cold milk.
Here are a few important don’ts for knocked out teeth:
Any of these could kill the root, making the tooth impossible to replant.
Most of the time, when a baby tooth gets knocked out, it isn’t an emergency. Typically we wouldn’t replant a baby tooth because that might create problems for the permanent tooth underneath. However, if it wasn’t loose beforehand, we recommend at least giving the dentist a call for some advice. There might be less obvious damage than what happened to the tooth.
Another essential part of your dental emergency plan, besides what to do in different emergency situations, is to know where to go for help! If you’d like to learn what our practice can do for dental emergencies, just give us a call and we can tell you about our end of the equation. Hopefully you’ll never need to make use of this information and the only times we’ll see you will be for normal appointments, but preparation is key!