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As a follow up to last month’s post on how custom mouthpieces can protect your teeth and mouth from injury, I wanted to field some questions regarding what to do if you are unfortunate enough to have experienced dental trauma. With school and fall sports gearing up, you want to be prepared in case you find yourself with a dental emergency on your hands.

So what is considered a dental emergency?

Anytime a tooth breaks, cracks, becomes loosened, or is knocked out completely, is considered a dental emergency.  Though obviously some injuries are more serious than others, it’s always better to give your dentist and call right away to let them help you judge the severity of the injury.

What should I do if my tooth or my child’s tooth is knocked out?

A tooth has the best chance of surviving dental trauma if you see your dentist within one hour of the injury – so call immediately. If you can find the missing tooth, handle it by the crown (top) and not the root (pointed part usually beneath the gum) so as not to damage the cells that are necessary to reattach the tooth to the bone. Gently rinse the tooth with water if there is visible dirt and debris, but do not scrub it. If it is a permanent tooth, the best thing to do is to place the tooth back in the socket and gently bite on some gauze or tissue while traveling to the office. If you are not comfortable with replanting the tooth, the next best thing is to put the tooth in a cup of saline, saliva, or milk until you get to the office. However, if a baby tooth is knocked out, it should not be replanted.

What do I do if a tooth is pushed out of position?

Again, call your dentist right away. In the meantime, attempt to reposition the tooth to its normal alignment with light finger pressure – but don’t force it.

What about if a tooth is chipped or fractured?

Tooth fractures vary in degree of severity from uncomplicated (chipped enamel), to moderate (exposed dentin or nerve), to even complicated fractures that sever the tooth in half.  If you or your child fractures a tooth, rinse his or her mouth with warm water and use an ice pack to reduce swelling. When you reach the dentist, an exam will determine if there are tooth fragments lodged in the tissue and what, if any, action needs to be taken to restore the tooth.

Our front office staff is familiar with many different dental emergency situations, so if you find yourself needing assistance, they’d be happy to help you navigate the emergency and get you in to see us as soon as possible!