Broken, Fractured, or Displaced Tooth
While it can be a stressful time for anyone, broken, fractured, or displaced teeth can be successfully replanted as long as a few decisive steps are taken.
- 1. Pick the tooth up by its crown (the chewing surface) – do not touch the root.
- 2. Rinse the tooth and mouth gently with water. Avoid using soap and chemicals, do not scrub or dry the tooth.
- 3. Attempt to place the tooth back into the socket by aligning it and gently pushing it in or biting down. If you are able to, hold it in place until you reach the dentist. If you cannot, it is critical that the tooth stays moist. You can place it in an emergency tooth preservation kit, milk, or your mouth on the inside of your cheek. Do not use water as the root cells may degrade.
- 4. Place a cold compress on the outside of your cheek to reduce swelling.
- 5. Immediately get to a dentist’s office. Chances of saving the tooth are greatest within the first 30 minutes.
In the case of a fractured tooth, rinse with warm water and apply a cold compress to the outside of the cheek. If the damage is minor, the dentist can sand the tooth or restore it if the pulp is still intact. If a child’s baby tooth is loose, biting down on an apple or piece of soft candy can help separate it from the gums. Avoid too much tugging as this can cause bleeding.
If a tooth is persistently causing you pain, it could be more than just a toothache. It could be an abscessed tooth that requires more intensive attention. An abscessed tooth is a bacterial infection that has spread down to the tooth’s root or surrounding tissues. This area, called the pulp, is the tooth’s soft core and contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. When this area becomes infected, it swells and can be extremely painful.
Abscesses often begin with a cavity that went unaddressed and progressed deeper into the tooth. However, a traumatic blow to the face can cut off the tooth’s blood supply, almost immediately killing the pulp inside. Antibiotics may be able to kill the infection, but if the abscess is deep enough, it could require a root canal to remove.
Impacted / Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in the back of the upper and lower mouth. For most people, there is not enough room left in that area, so the wisdom teeth don’t have enough space to come in normally. This overcrowding can lead to improper bites and the teeth becoming impacted – an extremely painful condition. Because they are so hard to reach and thus hard to clean, impacted wisdom teeth are often more susceptible to decay. Most people have them removed to avoid serious problems down the line because a lack of wisdom teeth doesn’t affect the ability to chew or speak.
Dentin hypersensitivity, more commonly referred to as sensitive teeth, is when the dentin of your teeth becomes exposed. Dentin is the soft layer of the tooth below your gums made up of roots and the tooth’s nerve center, the pulp. When your dentin is exposed, things like hot and cold send signals straight to the nerves, resulting in the pain you feel. This exposure can come from many things like tooth decay, worn fillings, or microscopic cracks that may form over time. What many people don’t know, is that certain abrasive toothpaste that claim to whiten your teeth contain chemicals that could also be the culprit. To treat sensitive teeth, your dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride gel, fillings, a crown, or in some extreme cases, a root canal.
It should be noted that sensitive teeth can sometimes be indicators of larger issues not yet detectable, so let your dentist know if you feel any changes in your teeth.
Plaque is a soft, sticky film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth and combines with the starches and sugars in the food you eat to produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel and gum line. If not removed regularly with flossing and brushing, plaque can lead to cavities, gum irritation, soreness, and redness. Gums will begin to pull away from teeth, forming pockets of disease around the tooth structure and bone beneath the tooth.
As mentioned above, if plaque remains on your teeth for an extended period of time, tooth decay eats away at the surface of your teeth and gums and creates cavities. If they aren’t treated in a timely manner, a simple filling becomes a root canal and a crown. Look out for symptoms such as unusual sensitivity, localized pain, or a change in the color of your tooth.
The best way to stave off cavities is regular brushing and flossing. Eating a balanced diet will also ensure fewer sugary and starchy foods will make their way into the mix. Your saliva acts a natural cleanser, so chewing on a sugarless gum between meals or brushing will stimulate production. Sealants and varnishes can be applied to teeth to form an extra layer of protection.
Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease that inflames periodontal tissue. It forms when plaque builds up on teeth and irritates gum tissue, eventually causing it to recede from the tooth. Pregnancy has also been known to cause certain forms of gingivitis because of the hormone changes a woman goes through during that time.
Early signs are easy to spot and include chronic bad breath and tenderness, or minor bleeding after brushing and flossing. Dental X-rays can help determine if and how far the inflammation has spread to the rest of the teeth so a treatment plan can begin. In its earliest stages, before it escalates to periodontitis, gingivitis is highly treatable.
One of the most common jaw disorders involves the temporomandibular joint, a hinge that helps you move your jaw up and down and side to side. People who grind their teeth often inflame or damage this joint leading to serious TMJ problems. Those who suffer from this and other related jaw disorders often hear a clicking and popping noise when they open or close their mouth. They also suffer from frequent headaches, neck aches, and tooth sensitivity.