If you have fractured a piece of tooth off, keep the section of the tooth if you can. Sometimes it is possible to re-attach the fractured piece of tooth. The tooth may be sensitive to cold, air, heat or sweets. If the tooth was fractured from an accident of some sort it is not uncommon for the tooth to be slightly more mobile than normal. This can be caused from a temporary loosening of the supporting tooth ligament, known as the periodontal ligament. It is best to see a dentist, leave the tooth alone and resist from wiggling. The periodontal ligament, if given time, will tighten up and the tooth will return to pre-trauma mobility. If you have lost a pieced of a tooth it is best to have the tooth evaluated by a dentist. Prior to calling, it is helpful if you can identify the location of the tooth (front vs back, lower or upper, and right or left).
If a tooth has a history of trauma, it is important to watch the tooth for discoloration or a pimple-like bump on the gums. When a tooth suffers from trauma, it can cause the fragile blood vessel that enters the tooth at the tip of the root to become severed. This can lead to the pulp of the tooth becoming ischemic and the tissue inside the tooth dying or becoming necrotic. It is not possible to tell immediately following trauma if this will happen. The diffuse graying or darkening of the tooth or a pimple like bump on the gums can be an indication that the tissue has died and dental intervention is needed. If you notice either of the above, you should call your dental office and be seen.
If you or your child completely looses a tooth (known as avulsion) to trauma, knowing how to handle the situation can potentially save your tooth. If the avulsion occurs on a primary or baby tooth, DO NOT place the tooth back in the socket. Have your child gently rinse with warm salt water (1 teaspoon salt to 12 oz of warm water) and let the water run out of their mouth. Be sure to keep the tooth if it can be found. A dentist should be contacted immediately. The avulsed primary tooth should be brought with you for your dentist to evaluate.
If a permanent or adult tooth is avulsed due to trauma, the tooth should not be scrubbed or rinsed in water. There may be an appearance of "fur" or strings on the root of the tooth. This is the fragile periodontal ligament - no measures should be taken to remove this as the ligaments may be able to reattach if the cells are left intact. Ideally, if the child or adult is old enough, he/she should pocket the tooth in their cheek to ensure the saliva can continue to bathe the tooth and keep the periodontal ligament alive. If this is not possible due to age or risk of swallowing, the tooth should be submerged in milk. Your dentist should be contacted immediately.
If you or your child develop a toothache, you should contact your dentist immediately. Swelling, redness, heat, throbbing or fever can all be signs of a localized infection or abscess. Ice and over-the-counter analgesics can sometimes help to relieve some discomfort until your dentist can see you.
For any patient of record, we have an emergency line after-hours that notifies staff members, this is the best way to contact us outside of our regular business hours in the event of a dental emergency. Whenever the office is closed for vacation, we always arrange for another dentist to cover for us in the event that one of our patients has a dental emergency.