When you break a tooth, there is a moment when your mind goes blank, trying to understand what has just happened. Then, as you realize the severity of what has occurred, panic sets in.
But now is not the time to act irrationally. Preparing for this situation can save you time and money, so it is best to be ready in the event.
When To See An Emergency Room
Before we discuss anything further, we have to cover when a broken tooth becomes more than just a dental issue. If you believe at all that the situation may be life-threatening, it is important that you head directly to an emergency room immediately.
If the tooth isn’t the only area that has been injured, it might also be important to see an ER doctor. Facial injuries can be very serious, and attending to their care is crucial. Spinal injuries also might not be visible immediately, and often require sophisticated imagery to safely diagnose.
Also, if there is bleeding that will not stop, it is important to get help from an ER. They have access to the tools necessary to stop excessive bleeding, and if necessary, give blood transfusions.
First Steps At Site
If those instances do not apply, then you should try to calm yourself as much as possible. Any pieces of the tooth (or surrounding tissue) may be helpful in your situation, so you do not want to lose or discard anything too hastily. Leave that to the dentist’s discretion.
If possible, call your dentist right away. If it is outside their normal hours, leave a message with them.
Collect all the pieces of the tooth or prosthetic, and any tissue, first and foremost. Any recreation using your natural teeth is optimal.
If your entire tooth is knocked out, rinse it gently in the sink to remove any debris or dirt from the tooth. Bacterial growth can occur very quickly.
If your tooth fits back in the socket, place it there and hold it until you can see a dentist. If it does not, then you should put it in a cup of saltwater or milk. You might think that plain water would be helpful, but it will cause even more damage to the structures.
In order to stop any bleeding, bite down on a clean piece of fabric. Cotton gauze is the best solution, but it might not be available. Paper products such as toilet paper or paper towels will work, but they can leave remnants. Fabric is much more ideal.
Come See Us Quickly!
Once these steps are followed, the speed at getting to a trained dentist is crucial. The longer that the damage is exposed to the elements, the quicker the body begins to heal itself. With most situations, that is a benefit, but we do not want the mouth to begin to heal over the tooth socket.
If this happens to you, please give Dr. Hofkes at Balboa Dental Surgery a call at (949)630-0143. Or stop by our office here in Newport Beach, CA!