A broken tooth can happen unexpectedly, leaving you in pain and unsure of what to do next. A broken tooth is considered a dental emergency that requires immediate attention, whether it’s due to an accident, trauma, or weakened tooth structure. Understanding the urgency of the situation and knowing how to respond can help alleviate pain, prevent further damage, and restore your smile to its former glory.
Why is a Broken Tooth an Emergency?
A broken tooth is considered an emergency for several reasons.
Pain and Discomfort
A broken tooth can cause intense pain and discomfort. The exposed nerve endings within the tooth can be sensitive to temperature changes, air, and pressure. Additionally, sharp or jagged edges from the broken tooth can irritate the surrounding soft tissues, leading to further discomfort. As a result, treating a broken tooth promptly can help alleviate the pain and prevent it from worsening.
Increased Risk of Infection
A broken tooth creates an entry point for bacteria to enter the tooth’s inner layers, potentially leading to an infection. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the surrounding tissues and even into the jawbone, causing more significant oral health problems. Also, addressing a broken tooth promptly can help prevent the development of infections and their potential complications.
A broken tooth compromises the structural integrity of the tooth. Depending on the severity of the break, the tooth may be at risk of further damage or fracturing. Prompt treatment can help protect the remaining tooth structure, prevent additional fractures, and increase the chances of preserving the tooth.
How to Address a Broken Tooth
If you experience a broken tooth, follow these steps to address the situation effectively:
Rinse Your Mouth
Start by rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater. This will help clean the area around the broken tooth and reduce the risk of infection. Then, gently swish the salt water around your mouth for about 30 seconds, and spit it out.
Save Any Tooth Fragments
If possible, locate and save any fragments of the broken tooth. Rinse them gently with water, being careful not to scrub or remove any tissue attached to the fragments. Hopefully, your dentist may use these fragments to assess the extent of the damage and determine the best course of treatment.
If there is any bleeding from the broken tooth or surrounding gums, apply gentle pressure to the area using a clean piece of gauze or a damp tea bag. Then, hold it in place until the bleeding subsides. If bleeding persists or is severe, seek immediate dental attention.
Manage Pain and Swelling
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help manage pain and reduce swelling. Follow the instructions on the packaging and consult with your dentist if the pain persists or worsens.
Contact Your Dentist
It’s crucial to contact your dentist as soon as possible after experiencing a broken tooth. Explain the situation and schedule an emergency dental appointment. Finally, your dentist will evaluate the extent of the break and provide appropriate treatment. Then, they should recommend further steps to restore the tooth’s functionality and appearance.