Though they can be extremely painful, not every unexpected dental issue necessitates a visit to an emergency dentist. Whether you wake up in the middle of the night with tooth pain, or if you were in a sports accident that damaged a tooth, you may be wondering if you need immediate attention. Knowing when to…
How an Emergency Dentist Can Fix a Cracked Tooth
If a patient has cracked, chipped, or broken a tooth, a licensed emergency dentist can provide quick relief in a variety of ways and ultimately repair the tooth to make it look whole again. This type of tooth damage can happen to anyone, but a person may be more at risk for this type of injury if:
- They play a sport, especially a contact sport
- They habitually clench or grind their teeth, a condition known as bruxism
- They have a history of extensive dental work or severe decay
- They are over the age of 50
- They have a habit of chewing on foreign objects
- They eat very hard or crunchy foods on a routine basis
Any type of serious tooth injury warrants prompt evaluation from a dental professional, including a cracked tooth. People with this type of injury are more prone to serious issues, including infections. If a regular dentist cannot be seen in a timely manner, the patient should visit an emergency dentist instead. Depending on the type of crack, the dentist will determine measures to provide pain relief, if necessary, and work with the patient to create a plan for restoration.
Why should a patient immediately fix a cracked tooth?
It may be tempting to leave the tooth alone — especially for patients who only notice a small chip or crack on the tooth's surface — but it is crucial to visit an emergency dentist to determine whether the problem lies deeper within the tooth's structure. For example, the tooth may have cracked because of decay at the root of the tooth. It is likely that such a patient would have noticed warning signs such as sensitivity and pain, but this is not always the case. Additionally, a patient may not initially notice a cracked tooth after experiencing an accident that caused several greater injuries.
Not fixing a cracked tooth immediately may lead to pain, decay, and the eventual loss of the tooth if it can no longer be saved. It is important not to wait too long before treating a damaged tooth in general. Treating a crack is especially time-sensitive.
How can an emergency dentist fix a cracked tooth?
Patients who can reach an emergency dentist by phone should be able to speak to the office staff (or perhaps the dentist) to determine whether the cracked tooth constitutes an emergency that should be looked at right away. At times, the patient can schedule an appointment and wait, but this is not a good idea if there is extreme pain, bleeding, or the potential for infection.
- Contouring the surface: The dentist can use a special instrument to change the shape of the tooth and make the crack or chip less prominent. This procedure is more appropriate for chips and very small cracks.
- Using veneers: Dental veneers, which are placed over the teeth to provide a cosmetic enhancement, can be used to fix mildly or moderately cracked teeth.
- Placing a crown: If the tooth cannot be fixed with less invasive measures, the dentist may place a crown to correct the crack after ensuring that it is free of infection and decay.
- Performing a root canal: Root canals are often not an emergency dentist's first choice when it comes to saving a cracked tooth, but this procedure is sometimes necessary if the pulp of the tooth is infected or there are issues with the root of the tooth. The practitioner will remove the pulp, seal the tooth to safeguard against infection, and place a crown to provide structure for the tooth.
Once the treatment is complete, it is important to follow the emergency dentist's recommendations for continued care. This will likely include a follow-up visit in a few weeks. For the first few days, patients may want to avoid extremely hot or cold foods to limit sensitivity. Hard or crunchy foods should also be avoided because they can cause unnecessary pain and may damage new dental work.
Even if the area is tender, clean it thoroughly as instructed. Use ice packs, salt water rinses, and medications for pain relief as instructed by the dentist. Monitor symptoms with care. Pain, redness, swelling, or oozing that persists or worsens over time should be discussed with the dentist as soon as possible.
Visiting an emergency dentist is a good option for patients who have a cracked or chipped tooth. These professionals are highly trained and skilled in providing treatments for dental emergencies. If you or a loved one has suffered a cracked tooth, please contact an emergency dentist as soon as possible.
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