Loose teeth in a child is a signal that their adult teeth are coming into place. However, loose or broken teeth in an adult is a signal that something may be wrong. A broken tooth or knocked out tooth is a dental emergency. If any of these dental conditions happen to you, time is of the essence in getting treatment.
Common causes of loose or broken teeth
You may notice loose teeth after a traumatic incident or illness. Gum disease and osteoporosis can loosen your teeth. If you have a crown or restoration, they may loosen as they age. An infection of the tooth root can also lead to loose teeth.
As for broken teeth, the following are common causes:
- Biting into hard foods, nuts and candy
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Trauma to the face and mouth
What to do if you break a tooth?
If the tooth is only a little loose, call your dentist and describe the symptoms. It may not be an emergency and can heal by itself. Gums may bleed while it heals, so avoid chewing with that tooth and stick to soft foods for a few days.
If the tooth does not tighten on its own in a few days, see your dentist to be sure the injury was not more severe than you initially thought it was. If the tooth is broken, partially connected or completely dislodged, see a dentist as soon as possible.
Time is the most critical factor in determining whether a dentist can repair your broken teeth. You should see a dentist within 30 minutes, but re-implantation and repair are still possible if you call your dentist immediately following the incident.
Caring for loose and broken teeth
- Handle broken teeth gently because re-implantation may be difficult if the tooth is damaged. Do not touch the tooth's root. Only touch the top part of the tooth.
- If the tooth fell to the ground, rinse it in lukewarm water, so it does not dry out and to remove loose dirt. Do not try to disinfect, scrub or scrape off any tissue attached to the tooth. Most importantly, do not let it dry out! These factors will make it very hard to put the tooth back in your mouth.
- If possible, reinsert permanent teeth into the correct sockets and bite on a gauze pad to hold any broken teeth in place.
- If you cannot reinsert the tooth, preserve the tooth in milk or lukewarm water until you can get to the dentist.
Do not remove loose teeth! It is best to keep a damaged tooth in your mouth.
How to deal with the pain
While these temporary remedies may not work in every situation, they can provide pain relief until you see a dentist. Over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen can reduce pain. Avoid aspirin because it can slow blood clotting and cause problems if you need a root canal. You can also try a dental anesthetic like Orajel or Anbesol, which you can find at most pharmacies. Additionally, rinse with warm salt water. This works as an antiseptic to remove bacteria and prevent infection.
Broken or loose teeth? Call us right away
If you have broken or loose teeth, you need quick treatment. Call our office to care for your tooth and to schedule an appointment.
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