PRINTED IN TCI WEEKLY NEWS
March 17th, 2012
A dental emergency is something that no-one is able to foresee but, like any emergency, if you can remain calm and know ahead of time the correct steps to follow, you are best placed for handling it correctly and minimizing long term damage. In many dental emergency situations the steps you take immediately can have significant consequences. It may be the difference between saving or losing a tooth or teeth.
As a general point I would advise having the contact number’s of your dentist, doctor and hospital programmed into your phone.
Mark Osmond Dental Clinic: (649) 432 3777
Cheshire Hall Medical Centre, Provo: (649) 941 2800
Cockburn Town Medical Centre, Grand Turk: (649) 941 2900
Below I have started to detail common emergency issues and the best way of dealing with them. As there is quite a lot of information to cover, this will be a three part article which will continue over the next few of weeks.
Knocked out tooth- this applies to permanent (second) teeth only
The tooth should be retrieved. Hold the tooth by the crown (the white part you usually see in the mouth) and rinse it gently in water if it is dirty. Do not attempt to scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If you are able, try and gently reinsert the tooth back into the original hole (socket) but do not force it. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a cup of regular milk or saline solution (salt water). In either case you need to see your dentist immediately.
A tooth that has been completely knocked out and then re-implanted will need to be splinted. It is common that it will require root canal treatment.
Partially dislodged tooth- this applies to permanent (second) teeth only
If a tooth is very loose but not completely out, try to hold it in place and if possible gently push it back into the correct position. You should see your dentist as soon as possible. In the immediate term you can apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek to help relieve pain and reduce swelling. You can also take an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
When you see the dentist an x-ray will be taken to establish whether the tooth has just moved in the socket or has been broken off at the root. If the tooth is intact the dentist will try to move the tooth back into position and then splint it in order to keep it stable within the jaw bone while it heals. At this stage it is not possible to know whether the tooth has died from the trauma.
If the tooth has a fractured root then the prognosis for the tooth has to be carefully assessed; some teeth can survive with treatment but often the only option is extraction.
If the patient is young and the root formation not complete (under 9 years), it is possible for a tooth to survive being knocked out and remain alive. If this is not the case a root canal treatment will be commenced.
Please note the above information applies to adult teeth only. Do not attempt to re-implant or replace knocked out deciduous (baby) teeth. This could potentially damage the forming adult tooth within the gum. If a baby tooth has been knocked out or has become dislodged, see you dentist as soon as possible. If you are able, bring the tooth with you.
Please look out for the next installment of this article which will discuss dental emergencies concerned with loose or lost crowns, bridges and fillings, chipped teeth and toothache.