When an emergency strikes, you need help – and answers – fast. Families in and near Chicago, IL turn to Dr. Siegel and the team at Big Smile Dental for advice they can trust and a consistently high quality of care they can count on. Here, we answer your questions about one of the most common types of dental emergencies: knocked out teeth.
Q. I’m in pain, and I need help fast! Should I go to a dentist or the ER (emergency room)?
A : That depends on the extent of your injuries. The ER is not the best choice for dental emergencies. The doctors may be able to help with temporary pain control and infection but saving and repairing teeth is not their area of expertise. At Big Smile Dental, we work to get you out of pain as quickly as possible, while saving your smile. However, you need to go to the ER if you have non-dental injuries such as broken bones or a concussion.
Q. My tooth was knocked loose, but it is still partially attached. Should I finish taking it out?
A : No. The less tissue is damaged, the better the odds of saving your tooth. Leave it in the socket, and attempt to straighten it very, very, gently. See a dentist right away.
Q. My tooth was knocked out of my mouth. What should I do with it?
A : Don’t touch the root or any tissue that is still attached to the tooth. Only handle the crown (upper part). If there is dirt or debris stuck to the tooth, rinse it very gently under a soft stream of tepid water. Do not rinse unless necessary. Next, attempt to place it back in the socket, but do not use force. If it does not slide back in place easily, place it in a clean container and cover with milk. You can also hold it inside your cheek or use a preservation solution such as Save-A-Tooth. Whatever method you use, it is very important that you don’t allow the tooth to dry out.
Q. Can a dislodged tooth be reattached?
A : Reattachment is possible, but the window of opportunity is very narrow. For the best chance of reattachment, you should see a dentist within 30 minutes. In the meantime, be careful with the tooth and socket. Nerves and other exposed tissues are already damaged, and they will need to heal in order for reattachment to be successful.
Q. What emergency dental services are needed for a knocked-out tooth?
A : We will need to assess the situation and determine the extent of the damage. When the tooth and socket are in good shape, treatment may be as simple and cleansing the area then inserting the tooth in the optimal location. In some cases, an emergency root canal procedure may be performed. If the bone is fractured or the tooth is broken, treatment may be more complex. After appropriate dental procedures are completed, a composite resin or wire splint is added to stabilize the tooth during healing.
Q. Will I need follow-up appointments?
A : Yes. The splint is temporary, usually only worn for a few days. We will arrange an appointment to evaluate the tooth and remove the splint if appropriate. We also recommend a checkup within a few months, so that we can examine the tooth, make sure it healed properly, and check for other potential problems. There may be other appointments, depending on the nature of your injury and your treatment needs.
Q. How long does reattachment take?
A : The timeframe varies, depending on the severity of damage, your age, overall health, oral health, and other factors. It usually takes a few weeks for bone tissue to heal around the tooth. If bones were fractured or broken, complete healing will take much longer.
Q. What happens if reattachment doesn’t work?
A : Emergencies don’t always happen at convenient times and places. Maybe you are on a hiking trail, hours from the closest dental office… Don’t worry. If you can’t make it here in time, or if reattachment fails for any reason, we offer a variety of premier restorative dental services. The gold standard treatment is a dental implant, topped with a life-like porcelain crown. It looks so real that no one will notice it’s not a natural tooth, and it feels so natural that you might forget.