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Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can be frightening and are often painful.

Prompt treatment is almost always required to alleviate pain and to ensure teeth have the best possible chance of survival.

Sometimes teeth become fractured by trauma, grinding or biting on hard objects. In other cases, fillings, crowns and other restorative devices can be damaged or fall out of the mouth completely. If there is severe pain, it is essential to make an appointment as quickly as possible.


Types of dental emergencies:

Tooth knocked out

If a tooth has been knocked clean out of the mouth, it is essential to see your dentist immediately. When a tooth exits the mouth, tissues, nerves and blood vessels become damaged. If the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.

Here are some steps to take:

  1. Call our office.
  2. Pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse it under warm water. DO NOT touch the root.
  3. If possible, place it back into its socket – if not tuck it into the cheek pouch.
  4. If the tooth cannot be placed in the mouth, put the tooth into a cup of milk, saliva, or water as a last resort. It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.
  5. Get to your dentist, quickly and safely.


Your dentist will try to replace the tooth in its natural socket. In some cases, the tooth will reattach, but if the inner mechanisms of the teeth are seriously damaged, root canal therapy may be necessary.

LOST FILLING OR CROWN

Usually, a crown or filling comes loose while eating. Once it is out of the mouth, the affected tooth may be incredibly sensitive to temperature changes and pressure. Crowns generally become loose because the tooth beneath is decaying. The decay causes shape changes in the teeth causing the crown to no longer fit.

If a crown has dropped out of the mouth, make an appointment as soon as possible. Keep the crown in a cool, safe place. There is always the possibility that it can be refitted.

If your dentist is not immediately accessible, take these steps:

  1. Apply clove oil to the tooth to alleviate pain.
  2. DO NOT use any kind of glue to affix the crown.


Cracked or broken teeth

Fractures, cracks and breaks can take several different forms, but are generally caused by trauma, grinding and biting. Sometimes fractures are fairly painless, but if a tooth cracks and it extends down into the root, the pain is likely to be extreme. If a tooth has been fractured or cracked, there is no alternative but to see the dentist as quickly as possible.

Where a segment of tooth has been broken off, take these steps at home:

  1. Call our office.
  2. Rinse the tooth fragment and the mouth with lukewarm water.
  3. Apply gauze to the area for ten minutes if there is bleeding.
  4. Place a cold, damp dishtowel on the cheek to minimize swelling and pain.
  5. Take a topical pain reliever.


The nature of the break or fracture will limit what your dentist is able to do. If a fracture or crack extends into the root, root canal therapy may be the only effective way to retain the tooth. In the case of a complete break, the dentist will usually affix the fragment back onto the tooth as a temporary measure.

Dislodged/loose teeth

When a tooth has been dislodged or loosened from its socket by trauma or decay, it may be possible to save it. If the tooth remains in the mouth and attached to the blood vessels and nerves, there is a good chance root canal therapy will not be necessary.

It is important to call our office immediately to make an appointment. In the meantime, use a cold compress and over-the-counter medications to relieve pain. Your dentist will reposition the tooth and add splints to stabilize it. If the tooth fails to heal, root canal therapy may be required.

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