Losing a tooth can be extremely upsetting. Not only does it impact the way your smile looks, but tooth loss can also impact your speech, diet, and overall oral function.
Knowing what to do when you knock out a tooth or have a dental-related injury is crucial to saving your tooth and avoiding painful infections. Better yet, you can take steps today to prevent tooth loss before it occurs in the first place.
Reasons That Teeth Fall Out
Teeth fall out for a variety of reasons. The two most common are periodontal disease and traumatic injuries.
Periodontal disease is a condition caused by plaque, tartar and bacteria around the tooth, which then infect the gums. Over time the gums “detach” and create “pockets” around the root of the tooth. The deeper the pocket, the more challenging the area is to clean on your own. At the same time, the underlying bone will begin to shrink away (resorb) due to inflammation caused by the bacterial infection. Gum disease is best treated as early as possible.
Traumatic injuries, on the other hand, tend to pop up when you least expect them. After all, anyone can fall, get bumped in the mouth, or have an accident from time to time. If you know you’re more “at-risk” because of contact sports and similar hobbies, you should know that orofacial injuries are some of the most common that athletes will experience.
How to Protect Your Teeth
Fortunately, gum disease is usually preventable through good home care, daily flossing, and routine preventative visits at our Ottawa dentist’s office. We’ll regularly measure your attachment levels around each tooth to identify areas that show signs of early infection or detachment. By intercepting gum issues sooner, you can intervene to prevent bone loss and periodontal disease. Once the infection evolves into a severe state, preventing tooth mobility (and loss) becomes much more challenging.
Although not all traumatic injuries are preventable (such as car wrecks or slipping on an icy surface) you can lower your risk of sports-related injuries by wearing a protective mouthguard. Sports mouthguards that are custom moulded to your teeth provide the best level of protection. Why? Because they’re uniquely fitted to each of your teeth and less likely to come out of place when you need them the most. That way if there’s a secondary injury — such as getting hit during a game and then falling — it’s less likely to come out. A protective mouthguard can significantly lower your risk of:
- Broken teeth
- Knocked-out teeth
- Lip and cheek lacerations
What to Do to Prevent Permanent Adult Tooth Loss
Adult tooth loss isn’t nearly as common today as it was a few generations ago. Today’s adults have access to better preventative dental care than ever. Even if you weren’t lucky enough to have grown up with regular dental checkups, the therapies available for the modern dental patient mean that it’s possible to keep your teeth healthy for life.
The most important thing to do to prevent the loss of permanent adult teeth is to see our Ottawa dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. We’ll identify risk factors that you need to be aware of, provide preventative therapies to reduce your risk of disease, and talk to you about simple steps to reduce damage to your smile. Even if you’ve never had dental problems in the past, the best way to keep it that way is to schedule a preventative care appointment.
Emergency Steps to Save your Tooth
For knocked-out teeth, you’ll need to act quickly. First and foremost, don’t touch the tooth by the root, as you could potentially damage the microscopic fibres that aid in reattachment. Second, gently rinse away any visible debris. If possible, place the tooth back into your socket but do not force it into place.
Otherwise, store the tooth in a sealed container and completely submerge it in milk, or saline. If none of those are available you may stick the tooth under your tongue, but don’t swallow it.
Knocked-out teeth need to be treated by a dentist within 1-2 hours. Call us immediately. If possible we will attempt to reinsert the tooth or bond any broken fragments back into place. However, if there is nerve damage involved, you may require endodontic treatment to save the tooth.
Missing Tooth Replacement Options
Losing a tooth creates excess space in your bite. Even if the open area isn’t visible or causing cosmetic concerns, it can impact the overall alignment of your entire smile. It’s like taking one book off of a bookshelf and watching the other books tilt to the side. The same thing can happen to our smiles. In time, surrounding teeth will begin to drift out of place. Opposing teeth may also “super-erupt” in an attempt to find a biting partner. So even if the missing tooth is located in the back of your mouth, your front teeth can be impacted.
To prevent changes in tooth alignment, it’s best to replace your missing tooth as soon as possible. That way you’re able to preserve natural spacing and function on an overall basis.
Some of the most popular Ottawa tooth replacement treatments include dental implants, fixed bridges, and removable partial dentures. Implants are the preferred line of treatment, in that they’re permanent and non-invasive to your adjacent teeth. We’ll review the best options with you given your situation so that you can make an informed decision about your smile’s future.
In Pain? Broken Tooth? Call Now!
Parkdale Dental Centre offers comprehensive family and emergency dentistry for all ages. If you’re in pain, have a knocked-out tooth, or need to see a dentist because of some type of traumatic injury, we encourage you to call. Our team will arrange to see you as soon as possible and offer guidance on the best steps to take until you can get to our office.
Contact us today! Same-day appointments may be available.