Dental care can be really stressful. If we aren’t worrying about whether or not we’re getting a cavity, we’re surrounded by marketing messages that tell us we should be more concerned. However, sometimes we find ourselves in a truly stressful situation when we have a painful dental emergency.

When we, or someone we care about, has a cracked canine, uncomfortable toothache, or a knocked-out adult tooth, our anxiety level can go through the roof. If it happens to be after normal office hours, we frantically search for the nearest emergency dental care provider.

The question is, what do you do in the time between the losing the tooth and seeing a dentist? Well, here are a couple quick tips for 2 of the most common dental emergencies.

Cracked or Broken Tooth

Common Causes

It may sound like a no-brainer, but biting an object that is harder than your tooth can quickly lead to a visit to your local 24-hour dental care provider. But, there are some unexpected situations that can lead to tooth damage.

  • The obvious one – biting or chewing on hard objects. That said, sometimes the culprit can be something natural like hard candy, nuts, or even ice.
  • Physical Contact – Typically, the contact isn’t something heroic, like catching the baseball ball with your teeth while bases are loaded… it’s usually more like falling down the stairs while texting a picture of your shoes.
  • Other noteworthy causes: Grinding and clenching, uneven chewing for uneven pressure, weakness from exposed enamel, or brittleness from a recent root canal treatment.

What To Do

Treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the size and location of the damage. The most important thing to do is schedule an appointment early on when you first notice the issue. Doing this will help minimize further damage. Treatment can vary from simply having a bonding agent applied to the problem area to root canals or extractions.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

Common Causes

If the situation is severe, the same events that lead to a cracked tooth may lead to a tooth, or teeth, being completely knocked out of the mouth. Accidents like trips and falls, in addition to sports-related injuries, are every day causes for a frantic call to your family dentist.

What To Do

If you or your child has knocked out a permanent tooth, you may want to get them to an emergency dental care facility. There are a few things you can do to minimize the lasting effects:

  1. After calling your regular dental clinic or emergency dental care provider, immediately locate the tooth. To pick up the tooth, gently pick the tooth up by the crown, not the roots, and rinse it off with clean, plain water. Please resist the urge to scrub the removed tooth.
  2. Unable to locate the tooth? It’s possible that the tooth was inhaled during the accident. If this is the case, contact your family doctor or go to your local emergency room for an x-ray exam.
  3. Next, you can choose to re-insert it back into the empty socket while holding it in place with a clean paper towel or gauze. FUN FACT — As an alternative, you can pour a glass of milk or small container of saline. These liquids will help to keep the root from drying out, but unlike water, milk or saline won’t cause the root surface to swell.
  4. For pain or swelling, over-the-counter pain relievers or a bag of ice wrapped in a hand towel are great options. Common treatments can be root canals, porcelain crowns, or even implants.