Going to the dentist isn't any fun, but it is one of those things that just has to be done. For years, I fought the process and didn't go for my regular cleanings and in the end, it sure didn't pay to do so. I ended up spending ten times as much time in the chair and a boat-load of money in dental repairs. If you don't like going to the dentist, you can make it easier on yourself. This blog will show you a few tips that can help you improve the experience and get through the treatment without as much discomfort.
Dental decay isn't the only way you could potentially lose a tooth. Severe trauma caused by an accident, contact sports or even through a bit of horseplay gone too far can lead to a partially or completely avulsed (knocked-out) tooth. Over 5 million teeth are knocked out due to these and other injuries.
Unless you're a hockey player who takes a missing tooth as a badge of pride, there's a good chance that you'll want to hang onto your tooth to preserve your complete smile. Here are a few things you can do to take care of your tooth in the event it's been knocked out of its socket.
Grab By the Crown, But Never By the Root
If you're dealing with a completely knocked-out tooth, the worst thing you could do is grab it by the root. The reason? Your very own hands contain millions of bacteria that could prove harmful to your tooth. If you handle your tooth by the root, that bacteria could cause the root to deteriorate, lowering your chances of successfully saving your tooth.
Instead, you should always handle your knocked-out tooth by the crown portion. Not only is it safer, but you'll also be able to keep it cleaner that way.
But what if dirt or debris has already gotten onto the root portion? If that happens, you should gently rinse the tooth with milk or water. Don't bother rinsing the tooth in hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, as this can cause damage to your tooth root.
Put It Back in the Socket as Soon as Possible
After retrieving and cleaning your tooth, you should try to insert it back into its socket as soon as you can. Sticking your knocked-out tooth back in the socket it came from allows the osteoblasts within your root to swing back into action and hopefully rebuild the bone bond that holds your other teeth in place.
As you reinsert your tooth, make sure it's sitting level with the surrounding teeth. To keep it stabilized, it's a good idea to bite down on something that's thick, yet relatively soft. You could use a thick piece of gauze or even soak a tea bag and use that to bite down on. This should buy you enough time to get to your dentist so he or she can stabilize your tooth for good.
Keep It in Milk or Saline If You Can't Re-Insert It Right Away
In some cases, you might not be able to get your tooth back in its socket right away. If this happens, you'll need to place the whole tooth in a small cup of milk or saline solution as soon as possible. The reason you'll need to do this is to help preserve the delicate osteoblasts within the root. Keeping the tooth in water could actually do harm to the root and make it much harder to save once you get to your dentist.
If you don't have any milk or saline around, you can instead place your tooth in between your cheek and gums. This way, you can preserve your tooth until you're able to reach your dentist.
What Your Dentist Will Do
As soon as you arrive at your dentist's office, your dentist will take a look at your knocked-out tooth and, depending on how much time has elapsed, make efforts to save the tooth and make your smile whole again.
In the vast majority of cases, your dentist will attach a splint to the once-loose tooth, using the surrounding teeth as a temporary anchor. It usually takes 3 to 4 weeks for the root to reattach itself to the surrounding bone, but it could take as long as 8 weeks for your tooth to heal completely.
Along with a splint, your dentist may also decide to perform a root canal to remove any pulp or nerves that may have become infected while your tooth was missing-in-action. Contrary to popular belief, the procedure is painless and it'll give you a better chance of preserving your smile.
If you're looking for a dental clinic near you, check out a dental website like http://www.artofdentistryinstitute.com.