Knowing When You Have A Dental Emergency And Not Just An Annoying Tooth Problem That Can Wait
It's 4:00pm on a Sunday and you have sudden pain when you bite down on something. Do you spend the money to see an emergency dentist, or can the problem wait until you can make an appointment to see your regular dentist? Here are some tips to help you decide what your next step should be.
1. Chipped Tooth
If you chipped a tooth on something hard, you likely have a rough edge on the tooth. If you can continue to eat safely without injuring the soft tissue in your mouth, you can wait to see your family dentist. If the chip extends below the gum line, you do risk getting an infection, so keep the area clean until you can get to the dentist.
2. Loose Tooth
A tooth that moves slightly when you push on it, but has no pain, can wait until you get to the regular dentist. If it's painful when you move it, there is a nerve problem. In that case, see an emergency dentist so they can save the tooth and nerve.
3. Broken or Cracked Tooth
Like the chipped tooth, if the break is above the gum line, you can safely wait a few days to see the dentist, if the rough edges don't irritate your mouth. A break below the gum line is an emergency because the tooth root and nerve may be involved. You may need a crown to save the root and the tooth.
4. Loose or Missing Crown or Veneer
If a veneer or crown pops off while eating, save it if you can. Get to your regular dentist as soon as you can to have the piece put back onto the tooth. If you wait too long, the shape of the tooth will change and the crown or veneer will no longer fit. If it's painful to eat after the piece pops off, then see the emergency dentist, because this means part of the nerve has been exposed.
5. Knocked Out Tooth
This is always a dental emergency. The sooner you get to the dentist, the more likely it is that they can save the tooth and put it back into place. After the accident, pick up the tooth that was knocked out, rinse it off slightly and try to place it back into the socket before heading to a dentist. The goal is to keep the tooth root moist and not let it dry out, which will kill the soft tissue in the tooth. If you can't put the tooth back in, place it in a small plastic bag with a little milk, not water, to keep it moist. The milk won't damage the cells in the tooth, but water will.
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