Teeth can be damaged in many ways, including a traumatic fall or crash, sports injuries, or simply chewing on something. A broken tooth is an unpredictable and inconvenient event that can happen at any time. When a broken tooth happens to you or someone in your family, how do you know what is a dental emergency and what isn’t?
Your tooth enamel is the strongest tissue in your body, but under the right circumstances it can get damaged. Whether your tooth is broken, cracked, or knocked out, our dental professionals will make sure you know what to do.
My Tooth is Cracked
A Superficial Crack is a type of tooth damage is a small, possibly painful crack. The tooth may be sharp or otherwise irritate your tongue or gums. A visit to the dentist is usually wise to ensure the crack does not worsen.
A Cracked Tooth might mean a visible crack that extends from the chewing surface towards the root. Left untreated, this type of crack will become painful and may result in loss of the tooth if not treated properly or if the crack widens. A cracked tooth can be a dental emergency. While the urgency of the situation depends on the size of the crack, the safest bet is to schedule an appointment with your dentist as quickly as possible.
My Tooth is Twisted
A tooth that is twisted, knocked farther into the socket, or pushed sideways is a Dislodged Tooth. This type of tooth injury is a dental emergency. Though damage may not be immediately visible, you may have an injury in the root structure of the tooth. Head to your dentist immediately, as the tooth will need to be re-positioned and evaluated for any underlying damage.
My Tooth is Knocked Out
Head straight to the dentist, NOT the emergency room. A tooth knocked out, or Avulsed Tooth, is a dental emergency that requires immediate assistance in order to save the tooth. Emergency rooms are not equipped to re-implant teeth.
Try not to touch the root of the tooth, and rinse it off with saliva or milk if possible. Never use soap or other cleaning products on the tooth, and do not scrape or scrub the tooth. If the tooth can be stored in the mouth until you reach the dentist, you can improve your chances of having it re-implanted successfully. If that’s not possible, storing the tooth in milk will prevent the surface from drying out and keep the living cells moist and alive for a few more hours. Usually you have one hour to re-implant a knocked out tooth.
Twisted, broken, or knocked out teeth can happen suddenly and without notice. Understanding what injuries are dental emergencies and what to do to alleviate pain can help assist you if it happens to you.
Download and print off our What To Do If You Break a Tooth Tutorial for additional guidance. This is a terrific guide to keep in your family medical binder, your daughter’s soccer bag, or wherever you can have quick access to it in a dental emergency.
Our dentists are here to help. Submit a question anytime on our Ask The Doctor page for quick and convenient answers to all your tooth related questions.