What to Expect from a Visit to an Emergency Dentist
When you are a little kid a loose tooth is actually kind of fun. The adults think it's cute - there are probably at least one or two shots in the family album of a younger you wiggling a loose tooth for the camera - and as a kid, you know that when the tooth falls out it's time for the Tooth Fairy to pay up. And what child wouldn't look forward to that little windfall?
When you are an adult, however, and have the set of teeth that are now supposed to last for the rest of your life, it is no longer a laughing matter when a tooth is loose. It's not funny or sweet and, as far as we know, the Tooth Fairy isn't a big fan of grown-ups. Instead, a loose tooth in an adult is a cause for concern and often, for the person the tooth belongs to, a bit of a cause for panic.
The first thing we can say, as emergency dentists, is DON'T PANIC. There are many reasons why an adult might have a loose tooth, but with the right, prompt dental care there is a very good chance that the tooth can be saved.
What Causes Loose Teeth in Adults?
There can be all kinds of reasons why a tooth 'comes loose' in an adult's mouth but some of the most common include:
- An accident in which the tooth has been hit or damaged
- Gum disease surrounding the tooth which has loosened it over time
- Decay that has become advanced enough to destabilise the tooth
- Other factors, such as grinding your teeth in your sleep.
What Should You do if You Have a Loose Tooth?
- See Your Dentist as Soon as Possible
This really should be something of a 'no-brainer' but many people actually avoid calling the dentist when they have a loose tooth because they are sure that it's a sign that they are going to need extensive dental work and sometimes the fear of that almost outweighs the fear of losing the tooth.
However, that may not be the case and by delaying dental treatment you could be throwing away any chance that the tooth can be saved. And even if it cannot a dentist can help ensure that the area surrounding the tooth is kept clean and free of infection and that the right ongoing treatments to deal with the situation are then planned. So, the basic advice here? Make that call as soon as you can.
- Don't Play With it
While you wait to see a dentist resist the temptation to 'play' with the loose tooth. Don't wiggle it, don't pick and it and certainly never attempt to pull it yourself, even if it feels 'really loose'. As an adult doing so increases the risk of both infection and excessive bleeding and neither of those things could ever be described as fun (and could have serious implication for both your oral health and your general health overall)
- Eat Soft Foods
If you are not heading to the dentist right away, you don't have to starve yourself while you wait but you should be careful. Avoid hard or sticky foods and keep that loose tooth as clean as possible but do so carefully. The best plan of action? Stick to soft foods and clean all off your teeth gently, being especially careful with the one that is loose.
What Will a Dentist do for Your Loose Tooth?
As you will discover when you get to their office your dentist will have a number of options for treating your loose tooth, and which one they choose will depend upon the unique situation at hand. However, some of the most common treatments include:
- Tooth Splinting - This is a procedure in which the loose tooth is bonded to the teeth surrounding it to give it a chance to stabilise and re-implant firmly
- Gum Treatments - Gum disease often leads to the gum 'losing its grip’ on a tooth, making it feel very loose. Treating the gum, with deep cleaning and other techniques can often begin healing the damaged gum tissue and, as the healing process proceeds the newly healthy gum will tighten around the loose tooth, securing it where it should be once more.
- Extraction - Sometimes a loose tooth can't be saved. After it has been safely extracted and the socket and gum area has been thoroughly cleaned and treated discussions can begin between dentist and patient about preparing for an implant to be placed to replace it.
Emergency Dentist Sydney Says:
A loose tooth is concerning but should not be a cause for undue panic. Seeing a dentist as soon as possible can significantly increase the chances that the tooth can be saved while also helping to ensure the health of all your other teeth as well.