Aside from regular cleanings and examinations, most dentists leave room in their schedules for emergency procedures. They also provide contact numbers for after-hours dental emergencies, which could include lost, loose, or fractured teeth. Here are some guidelines on how to react in the case of common dental emergencies.
A lost or knocked-out tooth requires immediate emergency dental attention. If addressed properly and quickly enough, the tooth can most likely be reinserted and saved by a dentist. When a tooth is knocked out, it is important never to handle the root (bottom) of that tooth. Rinse the tooth gently and try to place back in the socket, trying to bite down to make sure it is fully inserted. If the tooth cannot be replaced into the socket, the best thing to do is to soak the tooth in milk until a dentist can be reached.
If a tooth is simply loose or has been knocked out of alignment, it is still important to make an emergency dental appointment immediately. Try to put the tooth back in place using a finger and very light pressure, and bite down to keep the tooth from further shifting before receiving the attention of a dentist.
If a tooth is severely chipped, cracked, or broken to the extent that it causes pain, this is a dental emergency. In many cases, the damaged tooth can be saved with a filling or perhaps a crown if addressed quickly enough by a dentist. In the meantime, clean the mouth by gently rinsing with water and apply a cold compress to the face if the fracture is a result of facial trauma. Use acetaminophen to alleviate pain, but never use a topical dental anesthetic, which could burn gum tissue and make saving the damaged tooth impossible. In some more severe cases, the tooth cannot be saved and should be removed immediately by a dentist.