Don’t panic! What to do if you damage a tooth?

Don’t panic! What to do if you damage a tooth?

March 10, 2020 5:28 am Published by

A moment is all it takes for a thoughtless knock or a sudden slip to cause damage to your teeth. If you or someone you know has an injury that has made a tooth loose, damaged it in some way, or even knocked it out altogether, it’s very important to think and act quickly. Here’s a step-by- step guide to what you should do.

  • Seeing a dentist

The first thing to do is see a dentist, or at least, arrange to see one as soon as possible. If seen in time, a dentist can restore a knocked-out tooth. This will be done by a specialist dentist called an endodontist. To be effective, it has to be done very quickly – if you manage to see a dentist within 30 minutes then your tooth could be saved. Fortunately, most tooth injuries are relatively minor – so if you have just chipped your tooth a little and it’s not painful, you don’t need to see a dentist immediately. However the sooner the dentist sees you, usually the more repair work that can be done. Drs. Nicolas and Asp have emergency dentists available 24 hours a day, every day.

  • What will the dentist do?

The dentist will perform an X-ray to check if there is any other damage. If you have chipped your tooth and have the piece, the dentist may be able to reattach it. If not, the dentist might use a special coloured filling. These kinds of incidents only affect the tooth enamel – you won’t feel any pain as the nerve and pulp inside the tooth have not been affected.

  • What if the damage is more severe?

If your tooth has been chipped in a major way, it may have damaged the nerve or blood vessels underneath. You will feel it if this has happened to you! To fix your tooth, the dentist may need to use a veneer or make a crown. If your tooth has been dislodged then the dentist will carefully reposition it. Believe it or not, your dentist can even use splints behind the tooth to help secure it back in place. In both situations, depending on the extent of the injury, you might need a root canal. Luckily, children with knocked teeth will usually escape this, as their teeth are still growing and the injury will usually heal itself without further intervention.

  • A cracked tooth

Sometimes an injured tooth may not be painful, but can lead to further damage afterwards. For example, a tooth that’s been knocked or chipped is weakened and can be more vulnerable to cracking. A crack in a tooth is a more serious occurrence, depending on how far the crack extends. If it goes below the gumline – it’s pretty likely you’ll need a root canal and a replacement crown, or even that the tooth will need to be removed. If the crack reaches far inside the enamel, then the underlying nerve can be affected. If you feel hot or cold particularly strongly, or you feel pain when you chew, this may have happened to you. In all these cases the best idea is to visit your dentist as soon as you can.

  • Immediate action

It’s important to first look after the person that has been hurt. Then, turn your attention to the tooth. If the tooth has been knocked out, put it in milk or in the person’s cheek (if they are able), to keep it moist. Don’t touch the root at all. If the tooth is dirty, you can rinse it first in a bowl of room temperature water for no more than a few seconds. If there’s pain, it’s OK to have ibuprofen or acetaminophen (like Tylenol), but don’t put any painkillers like aspirin directly on the tooth surface or in the mouth. If a crown has been knocked and the nerve is exposed – for example, if the person feels sharp pain when drinking or breathing – then a damp clean cloth or gauze placed on the tooth surface can help. This can also help control bleeding. In these situations you shouldn’t delay seeing a dentist.

  • Managing the risk

If you’re a contact sports player, the risk of dental injury is much bigger! Wear a mouthguard. Even if you’re not into hockey or rugby, you might want to consider a mouthguard in solo sports like cycling. For small children, make sure they don’t have objects near their mouths like sippy cups when they’re on the move. Only let them drink when they’re seated. Safe is always better than sorry.

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