If left untreated, a chipped or broken tooth, or a broken crown or filling, can provide an opening for cavities because the damaged area is hard to keep clean. This can lead to more treatment having to be carried out in the long run.
If you have a dental emergency that involves trauma to your teeth and you cannot get an appointment with a dentist straight away, don’t panic. Follow these simple steps to hold you over until you get to the dentist.
If you break or chip a tooth, save the pieces and rinse the pieces and your mouth with warm water. Apply gauze to any areas that are bleeding. Once any bleeding stops, apply a cold compress to the area and see your dentist as soon as possible. It may or may not be possible to reattach the pieces, but bring them with you just incase.
If your tooth becomes partly dislodged, get to the dentist immediately, and put a cold compress on the area to decrease swelling.
If possible, find the tooth and pick it up by the crown end, not the root. Rinse the tooth if it is dirty but don’t scrub it — you want to preserve any tissue fragments. Teeth that have been knocked out have the best chance to be saved if they are put back in place within an hour of the accident. Try to put the tooth back in place (be sure that it is facing the correct way) but don’t force it. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, place it in a small container of milk, or water with a pinch of salt.
If a filling becomes loose or completely comes out of the tooth, it is important to get the filling replaced as soon as possible as the open cavity allows bacteria to get in which can lead to decay forming. If you cannot get an appointment with the dentist immediately, then pharmacies and health shops sell temporary filling material which can be used to block the hole as it may become sensitive once the filling has come out.
Image credit: Tim Regan