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Immediate To-Do List for Chipped, Cracked or Knocked Out Tooth

Chipped Tooth Illustration

Did you know that dental emergencies occur more often than you think, with chipped, cracked or knocked-out teeth being some of the most common scenarios? Understanding what you need to do immediately when faced with such situations can mean the difference between losing and saving a tooth.

This guide covers the immediate steps to take after an unfortunate mishap with your precious pearly whites ensues.

So, let’s get started.

What to Do With a Chipped Tooth?

Although minor chips don’t usually lead to pain, they may cause a jagged edge that can irritate your mouth and tongue. Here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Immediate Mouth Rinse

The first step on how to fix a chipped tooth at home is to rinse your mouth with warm water immediately. This helps clean the area and can also help remove any loose fragments of the tooth. Not to mention, it’s a quick and easy means of soothing discomfort.

Step 2: Apply Cold Compress

When a chipped tooth results in a minor injury in your mouth, employing a cold compress or an ice pack against your cheek can manage the swelling and reduce pain. It works by limiting blood flow to the area, which can prevent or minimize eventual bruising or swelling. Utilizing this early on can significantly aid in a speedy recovery process.

Step 3: Managing the Pain

A chipped tooth might cause discomfort, either due to the sharp edges irritating the mouth or due to nerve exposure. Over-the-counter pain medication can help in managing this discomfort. However, it’s always recommended to consult your local dentist or a physician before taking any medication to ensure it’s safe for you and does not interfere with any existing health conditions.

Step 4: Consult a Dental Professional

The final and most crucial step involves seeking immediate care from a dental professional. Even if the chip appears minor, neglect could lead to further tooth decay or even tooth loss. Based on the severity and location of the chip, your dentist will decide the suitable treatment options, which may include dental bonding. This involves applying a tooth-colored composite resin material to the tooth, or in the case of larger chips, a dental crown might be necessary.

What to Do With a Cracked Tooth?

Cracked teeth can cause tooth sensitivity, especially when eating hot, cold or sweet food and drinks. When you bite down, you might feel a sharp pain, which is often the first sign of a cracked tooth.

Step 1: Immediate Mouth Rinse

Upon realizing that your tooth is cracked, make sure to rinse your mouth with warm water. This not only cleans the area but can also wash away any tiny debris that might be residing in the cracked portion, causing discomfort. It’s a simple yet effective step that can prevent potential infection and calm your irritated gums.

Step 2: Application of Cold Compress

If the cracked tooth causes pain or swelling, using a cold compress on your face at the area of the damaged tooth helps to minimize this discomfort. The cold temperature causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing both pain and inflammation. This is a non-invasive and effective way to manage the immediate side effects of a cracked tooth before a professional treatment can be obtained.

Step 3: Utilizing Ice for Temporary Relief

In the case of a cracked tooth, strategically employing a piece of ice or a cold gel pack on the affected area can provide temporary pain relief. The cold helps numb the nerves in the area, reducing the intensity of the pain. While this doesn’t fix the problem, it helps in relief management during the time before reaching your dentist.

Step 4: Immediate Dentist Visit

One imperative step is visiting your dentist as soon as possible after you notice your tooth is cracked. The longer you wait, the more your cracked tooth is exposed to bacteria and debris, increasing the risk of infection. In severe cases, such delays might necessitate root canal therapy, and early professional intervention can often prevent such outcomes.

What to Do With a Knocked-Out Tooth?

Having your entire tooth knocked out or tooth loss, is a serious dental issue that requires immediate attention. Here’s what you can do at home:

Step 1: Proper Handling of the Knocked-Out Tooth

If your entire tooth gets knocked out, it’s essential to pick it up by the crown (the part visible in the mouth), avoiding the root. By touching the root area, you may unintentionally cause further damage or contamination. Depending on the tooth’s condition and quick action, it may be possible to reinsert and save it, but appropriate handling is crucial.

Step 2: Clean the Tooth if Needed

In case your knocked-out tooth happens to get dirty, gently rinse it with milk. It’s vital not to scrub or try to sterilize the tooth as this could harm the root’s surface, making it difficult for the tooth to reattach to the bone. Using milk maintains the right balance of pH and keeps the cells on the tooth surface from swelling and bursting.

Step 3: Attempt to Reinsert the Tooth

If you feel comfortable doing so, try to place the tooth back into the socket gently. Be careful not to force it into the socket, which can cause further damage. Reinsertion can often greatly increase the chances of saving the tooth, but only when done correctly, never by force.

Step 4: Preserve the Tooth Correctly if Unable to Reinsert

In situations where you can’t reinsert the tooth, place it in a container filled with milk and not water since water can cause the cells on the tooth’s root to swell and die. Milk has the right amount of pressure and supports the growth of the tooth for a brief period, making it a more suitable option for tooth preservation.

Step 5: Seek Immediate Dental Treatment

Having your tooth knocked out is a severe dental issue that demands prompt medical attention. As the minutes tick by, the risk of saving your tooth diminishes, so it’s critical to seek treatment as quickly as possible. If you can get to a dental professional within the hour, the prognosis for preserving your natural tooth significantly improves.

When Is a Trip to the Dentist or Medical Emergency Necessary?

A trip to the dentist or medical emergency is necessary whenever there is an injury to the teeth, gums or areas surrounding the mouth. This includes instances, such as:

  • Severe toothache
  • Knocked-out teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding or painful gums
  • Excessive swelling or abscesses

It’s crucial to remember that overlooking dental emergencies can lead to permanent damage infections and could potentially require more extensive and costly treatment down the line.

Dealing With a Chipped, Knocked Out or Cracked Tooth? Contact Pennsylvania Center for Dental Excellence Now!

In a dental emergency involving a broken tooth, acting swiftly can help prevent further damage and increase the chances of successful treatment. Remember to assess the damage, rinse your mouth, control bleeding (if applicable), manage discomfort and seek immediate dental care when necessary.

Pennsylvania Center for Dental Excellence offers a wide range of emergency dental services to handle any type of dental issue. Our experienced team is here to help you during your time of need. Your oral health is important, so take action today to preserve your natural teeth and maintain a healthy smile.

Click here to contact our emergency dentist in Philadelphia now!