How to Handle This Common Dental Emergency
For many people, having a tooth fall out is quite literally their worst nightmare. Bad dreams about teeth falling out are a phenomenon that psychologists have studied extensively, and they believe that teeth-related dreams are associated with important life changes. Even though the experience of losing a tooth sounds jarring, it is actually incredibly common. Gum disease accounts for 70% of missing teeth, according to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology. Other common causes of tooth loss are cavities, physical injury or trauma, such as a sports injury, along with co-occurring diseases.
If your tooth falls out, taking the proper steps immediately afterwards can mean the difference between saving the tooth and having to opt for a restorative treatment like dental implants. If this happens to you, your first step should be to place the tooth and hold it in the socket if possible. The National Health Service, which provides healthcare for all UK citizens, recommends placing the tooth in milk as soon as possible before seeing a dentist if you cannot fit it in the socket.
If you are unable to get an emergency appointment with your dentist, or the injury happens outside of their hours, you should go to an emergency room. The emergency room staff will be able to stabilize your condition, control the bleeding, and provide treatment for the dental fracture. Even if you do not think your tooth is salvageable, you might be pleasantly surprised, and it is important that you seek medical care in order to prevent a bacterial infection.
If you cannot access milk, the most important precaution is that the tooth stays moist at all times. However, we do not recommend using regular tap water to achieve this, as the root surface cells cannot tolerate it for long periods of time. After you have secured the tooth in the socket or in a moist place like milk, you should take the following steps before you are able to see your dentist or visit the emergency room:
- If you are holding the tooth in the socket, do so by the crown. The crown is the white part that is attached to the gum. You will want to avoid touching the root of the tooth in order to prevent further damage. Once it is in the socket, bite gently on a clean napkin or handkerchief.
- Milk should be utilized if you cannot fit the tooth back into the socket.
What Will a Dentist or Medical Provider Do if a Tooth Falls Out?
We understand how stressful a tooth falling out can be. The good news is that there is a chance it can be re-implanted into your gum, and even if it cannot, there are other treatment options that can restore your smile. You will have the best chance of re-implanting your tooth if you seek treatment within an hour of it falling out, so it is important to see a medical provider as soon as possible. If your medical provider is unable to re-implant the tooth, you still have a variety of options for replacing the tooth. Potential tooth replacement options include:
- Removable partial denture
A removable partial denture, or an RPD, is a prosthesis that can be taken in and out of your mouth. It can be used to replace a missing tooth, and it is typically the most cost-effective option.
- Temporary denture
This option is typically used for those who plan to have a dental implant in the future. The process of getting a dental implant can take between six and eight months, and might require multiple surgical procedures. This is usually used in conjunction with a flipper tooth, which is a removable retainer that fits along the roof of the mouth and has a prosthetic tooth attached to it.
As the name suggests, if you are missing a tooth, the dentist can bridge the gap with a dental bridge. This is a false tooth that is held in place by the abutment teeth, which is a term for the teeth that support the bridge. Bridges are usually made from porcelain to blend in with the natural teeth.
This is one of the most common and effective methods of tooth replacement. Dental implants are designed to look and act as natural teeth. They are a permanent solution for those who need to replace a tooth or multiple teeth.
To learn more about restorative dentistry treatments at Austell Dental Associates and get your smile back in its best condition, give us a call at (770) 467-3888 or contact us online.