When you think about oral injuries, you may first picture a new-to-walking child stumbling or an athlete taking one for his or her team. However, oral injuries can occur at any age. Handling these injuries properly when they occur ensures that your smile stays beautiful, healthy, and strong for life.Many general dentists offer emergency services, but how do you know whether you need emergency assistance or can wait for your next regular appointment? In this blog, we list common symptoms associated with dental emergencies.
A Missing Tooth
As an adult, you may assume your experiences with lost teeth are over. However, permanent teeth can become dislodged after an impact injury. For example, adult teeth could be lost when airbags deploy in a car accident or during a fall down a flight of stairs.
Not only does getting a tooth knocked out hurt, but missing teeth can also cause serious issues for your smile. If you lose a tooth unexpectedly, try to find it and gently rinse it with water. Do not touch the root or remove any tissue. If possible, keep the tooth in milk until you can see a dentist.Missing permanent teeth are always considered a dental emergency.
Constant or Intense Oral Pain
Tooth, soft tissue, or jaw pain can result from any number of causes, from cavities to sinus congestion. You can address much of this pain through the use of over-the-counter pain relievers and warm or cold compresses.
However, if the pain is sudden, intense, constant, or unlike any oral pain you have experienced previously, the discomfort could indicate a serious health issue. Consult with a dentist as soon as possible to address the underlying cause of the pain.
The term dental appliance includes most permanent items placed in the mouth to improve oral health or tooth appearance. For example, dentures, crowns, and even fillings can fall into this category.
These appliances often respond differently to injury or disease than natural tooth enamel does. If you notice cracking, chipping, or displacement, see your dentist for repairs.
In some cases, a dental appliance can become completely dislodged and lost. This type of dental emergency is particularly common with crowns, fillings, and other small dental items. It’s important to have a lost appliance replaced as soon as possible to safeguard against potential complications.As with a missing tooth, locate the dental appliance if you can. If you find the appliance, clean it gently and transport it to the dentist’s office in a sturdy container to avoid any warping or breakage on the trip.
Your dentist may attempt to replace the appliance or simply use the existing appliance to inform the creation of a replacement.
Persistent Soft Tissue Bleeding
You may not think of your own teeth as particularly sharp, but in an impact incident the teeth can easily damage oral soft tissue. And if a cut begins to close on its own with minimal bleeding, you may not need the help of an emergency dentist.
However, if the bleeding persists for more than 30 minutes or accompanies any of the other warning signs of a dental emergency on this list, see a dentist. Additionally, any soft tissue injury where the teeth become embedded in or break through the tissue require medical attention.
Sudden Changes to Eating or Speaking Abilities
You may be able to live with some dental problems until your regularly scheduled exams. However, if an oral problem affects your ability to eat or speak normally, the issue constitutes a dental emergency.
These emergencies can take many forms, so it’s important to pay attention to any changes to your teeth and mouth. For example, tooth looseness could cause a lisp while advanced tooth decay could cause pain when you’re chewing on one side.
Take note of your symptoms so you can give your dentist as much information as possible when he or she evaluates your oral health.
Visible Misalignment, Discoloration, or Cracking
While many dental emergencies result in new sensations, others are visible even to the untrained eye. For example, an impact injury directly to a single tooth could chip off a piece, cause a fracture, or damage the nerve.
If you see a chip, crack, or any discoloration, such as a tooth turning gray, after an oral injury, have a dentist assess the damage.
You should also schedule an emergency appointment if the alignment of your teeth changes significantly in an unplanned way. The misalignment caused by oral injuries can increase your risk of tooth decay and loss if not addressed soon after the injury occurs.
If you experience any of the dental issues listed above, whether the problem develops over time or happens due to an acute injury, seek the help of a qualified emergency dentist.
If possible, see your dentist within two hours after any tooth removal or breakage and within two days of any other emergency developments.
Dentures are typically associated with tooth loss as a person ages. However, in some cases, young adults and even mature teenagers need dentures to help deal with premature tooth loss due to infection, injury, or extensive damage to the teeth from health problems.
If you need dentures as a young person, adapting to denture care while still maintaining your lifestyle can be challenging. Here are some tips to live a full life while wearing and caring for dentures.
- Remember That You’re Not the Only One
One of the reasons why young people feel that dentures are such a challenge is because of the association with age. You might feel it is rare to meet a young person with full or even partial dentures, leading to feelings of insecurity.
However, dentures are more common than you might realize. They are often necessary for in the following situations:
- Injury. Dental injury is a very common reason for tooth loss. A puck to the teeth in hockey or hitting your teeth on the dashboard when you’re in a car accident results in early tooth loss. Some young veterans also lose teeth in combat. Usually the most cost effective replacement method is dentures.
- Poor dental health. It’s not as common as it was, but in areas where dental care is suboptimal, many young people can experience accelerated decay.
- Drug use. Some drugs accelerate tooth decay. Recovering users may need extensive restoration.
- Health problems. Some people experience early tooth loss because of diabetes, chronic acid reflux, or even structural abnormalities that cause teeth to grow deformed or even not at all.
None of the above reasons for needing dentures should be cause for self-depreciation. Choose to look at your dentures as any other cure for a physical ailment. When you have diabetes, you take insulin. When you have bad eyesight, you wear glasses. Similarly, when you have tooth loss, you use dentures to replace the teeth that are gone.
When you get dentures, even though losing your original teeth may seem traumatic, your life will not drastically change. The people who loved you before will still love you. Your job, your home, and your hobbies will not alter. You can and will meet and make new friends who will not even notice your teeth.
You can smile without fear.
- Choose Properly Fitted Dentures
Unfortunately, many young people who wear dentures feel that the dentures affect their social and romantic lives. In one survey, many respondents reported being unwilling to fully smile in public.
These issues are mostly remedied by quality dentures that are properly fitted. Loose, ill-fitting dentures are more likely to result in slight changes in appearance and difficulty speaking and chewing. Properly fitting dentures, however, should give the same mobility as you had with your regular teeth.
The sunken, gummy look that many associate with dentures only comes when you choose dentures that are not a fully optimized fit for your mouth. If you do experience trouble with your dentures when speaking, talking, or smiling, talk to your dentist. Adjusting the fit and style will help, and you should not settle for a less-than-perfect match.
- Stay Away From Difficult Foods
Dentures will be just as effective as your natural teeth at chewing your food. You should not fear dining out with friends—your dentures are designed to function just like your original teeth. It may take you a little while to fully trust and adjust to chewing with dentures, but you’ll be able to bite into an apple or enjoy some steak.
There is one major change that you’ll experience when wearing dentures—sticky, chewy candies will not work well. Denture adhesive and good fit keeps the set in place, but the pull of taffy-like candy can really damage them. If you do eat candy, stick with soft varieties. Never crunch down on hard candies or ice —suck on these items instead.
- Stick With Good Oral Hygiene
You’re not off the hook with oral hygiene when you have dentures. If you stay on top of morning and evening cleaning, your teeth will feel better during the day. Your dentures will last longer, and they will look better to others.
Since young dentures wearers may at first feel constantly self-aware, cleaning helps to put your mind at ease.
- Save for the Future
Because mouth shape changes with age (especially after pulling teeth from the gums), you’ll need to invest in a new set of dentures every three to eight years. How long your dentures last will also depend on wear and tear. A betted-made set will resist damage longer.
For more information on adjusting to life with dentures as a young person, contact us at Northwest Dental Services and Implant Center. We can help you explore the best tooth replacement option for your lifestyle and budget.
Teeth crack more often than you might think. A tooth can crack when you bite down on something hard, get hit in the mouth, or clench your teeth at night. Cracks range in severity, with minor cracks being little more than a cosmetic issue and more serious cracks posing a major threat to your overall dental health.
To be safe, you should always make an appointment with your dentist immediately if you suspect you have cracked a tooth. Here’s a look at the restorative dental procedures used most often to fix cracked teeth—and what you can do about the crack while you’re awaiting your appointment.
Caring for the Cracked Tooth
When you call to schedule your appointment, your dentist will likely ask you a few questions to get a better idea of how severe the crack is. Then, based on your answers, the dentist may either ask to see you immediately or schedule an appointment within the next few days.
In the meantime, the measures you take to protect the cracked tooth can affect your final outcome. If the tooth is bleeding, your dentist will probably want to see you immediately. Before you leave the house, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply pressure with a piece of gauze to stop the bleeding. Apply an ice pack to the outside of the cheek near the cracked tooth to help ease the pain.
If you have a smaller crack and your appointment is a day or two away, there are a few ways you can keep the cracked area safe, protected, and comfortable in the meantime:
- Chew on the opposite side of your mouth.
- Stick to softer foods, and avoid foods that are overly sugary or sticky.
- Rinse your mouth out with salt water after every meal. This measure helps prevent infections.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, like ibuprofen, if your tooth starts aching.
- Avoid overly hot or cold foods and beverages.
If the pain becomes unbearable, don’t hesitate to call your dentist back and see if the office has an earlier appointment available.
Restorative Dental Procedures for Cracked Teeth
When you arrive for your appointment, your dentist will examine your tooth and perhaps take X-rays to determine the severity of the crack. Then, the dentist will suggest one of these treatment options.
Minor cracks that barely extend through the enamel are often treated like cavities. Your dentist drills away the damaged enamel and then uses a hard restorative material to fill in the hole. If the crack is in a visible area, your dentist will likely recommend filling it with composite resin since it’s the same color as your tooth. Your mouth will be numbed with a local anesthetic during this procedure, so you should not feel a thing other than vibrations from the drill.
Cracks that are somewhat larger and deeper can threaten the integrity of the tooth. Your dentist may be worried that if you bite down on something hard again, the crack will grow even larger. In this case, it’s usually recommended that you have the tooth covered with a crown.
If your dentist decides you need a crown, he or she will have you bite into a mold to determine the exact size and shape of the damaged tooth. This mold will be sent off to a lab and used to make your crown. A temporary crown will be applied to protect your tooth, and you’ll return to the dentist a week or so later to have the permanent crown put in place.
If the crack extends all of the way into the pulp of your tooth, exposing the nerve and blood vessels, your dentist may recommend a root canal procedure in order to prevent infections. This is a treatment in which the pulp of the tooth is removed, the space left behind is sealed, and your tooth is then covered in a crown to protect it from further damage.
Root canals have the bad reputation of being painful, but in fact, you should not feel any pain during the procedure since local anesthetics are used. The process may require two or three appointments over the span of a few weeks.
Extraction and Replacement
If the tooth is so badly cracked that your dentist feels it won’t stay in one piece even when covered with a crown, then the best option is usually to have it extracted, or removed. Your mouth will be numbed, and the tooth will be removed from your jaw. You may have some bleeding and discomfort in the days that follow, but sticking to soft foods and taking over-the-counter pain relievers should keep the pain manageable.
Once you’ve healed from the extraction, your dentist will likely recommend having the missing tooth replaced with an implant. The implant itself is a metal screw that is placed into your jaw bone and capped with a crown, or false tooth. Dental implants look completely natural, and once you’ve healed from the procedure, nobody other than you and your dentist will be able to tell that the implant is not a real tooth.
If you crack a tooth, don’t delay seeking treatment from a restorative dentist. A deep crack that exposes the tooth pulp can easily lead to an infection, which can have serious consequences if not handled promptly.