Dental emergencies happen more often than you would think. We know most dental disease is preventable, however once a problem is identified treatment should be completed in a timely manner. The mouth is a sensitive area and can become very painful, very quickly. Incomplete treatment leads to unnecessary problems, complications, and increase in cost.
We get multiple emergency calls every week and make it a priority to get to these patients as quickly as possible. But why do these emergencies occur? Often, they are unavoidable. Unexpected injury. Wear on a tooth that wasn’t addressed in time. Misaligned bite. There are so many things that we’ve seen in our office, but here are the top reasons people visit Sensitive Care on an emergency basis:
Sports Injury Emergency
Getting hit in the mouth or jaw can cause bleeding, crack teeth, or dislodge them all together. Wearing a mouth guard is an excellent way to protect yourself from these injuries, but sometimes they still occur. The key is to stay calm, keep the area clean, and if a tooth is dislodged, ice it and bring it in.
When we encounter a sports injury, our top priority is to address the health of the root. If the root is damaged, we may need to perform a root canal. If it is still in good health, we can protect it by treating the tooth’s structure, whether it be a crack, chip, or it has become loose. Checking the root’s health would involve an x-ray to see how extensive the damage really is. You often can’t tell this based upon bleeding or top-down view, as we need to look at how sound the roots are before fixing what is above.
Crowns don’t last forever. Unfortunately, the average crown will only last around 15 years before needing replacement and adjustment. This time span can change based upon if the user grinds his teeth, if the bite has changed over the years, and what the crown is composed of. Crowns can crack, chip, or become dislodged during a trauma or just while going about your daily life.
Replacing a crown quickly is essential to ensure the shortened tooth base does not become damaged, and the internal nerves are not exposed. This can be done quickly in-office, even in one visit, with the CEREC Machine creating a new permanent crown on-the-spot.
Remember that not every broken crown involves pain. Even if the tooth is not in pain, there still is the potential for serious injury having occurred and a higher likelihood that the unprotected tooth can receive serious damage if not addressed quickly.
Cracked or Chipped Tooth
Though healthy teeth can handle a lot, biting down on something unexpected can crack or chip a tooth. Chips and cracks can affect the living tissue within the tooth, causing greater problems in the future. By addressing chips and cracks quickly, we can protect the living tissue and allow it to heal properly.
Minor cracks, or “craze lines” may not need repair, but larger cracks can gradually spread. These may be fixed with filling material or a crown. If the tooth’s nerve has become damaged with the crack, we can address that as well with a root canal, protecting the longevity of the tooth and eliminating unproductive pain and angst.
Major chips where the chewing surfaces have been affected don’t often result in nerve damage, but when left unrepaired can misalign the bite and cause jaw pain and uneven wearing on the other teeth. Chips should be reviewed in-office to see if a crown is needed.
Cavities and tooth decay should always be treated as soon as it is discovered. Ignoring a cavity allows the decay to spread, compromising the integrity of the tooth. Unfortunately, this can lead to breaks, weakening, nerve damage, and even tooth loss. Though we’d prefer treating you before it becomes an issue, if a known cavity begins to exhibit pain or shows signs of break, it should be treated as an emergency before the nerve becomes damaged beyond healing.
We never wish a dental emergency on anyone but want you to feel comforted that we are here when you need us. We understand that dental pain is unique and that the teeth we all depend on can fail us from time to time for so many reasons.
If you find yourself in a dental emergency, call our office at 203-951-5540 and we can explore our options.