“My tooth was knocked out, how soon should I see a dentist?”
Immediately. Getting to a dentist within 30 minutes can make the difference between saving and losing a tooth. When a tooth is knocked out:
- Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment
- Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. Touching the root (the part of the tooth below the gum) can damage cells necessary for bone reattachment.
- Gently rinse the tooth in water to remove dirt. Do not scrub.
- Place the clean tooth in your mouth between the cheek and the gum to keep it moist. It is important not to let the tooth dry out.
- If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse in milk.
When a tooth is pushed out of position but remains attached:
- Attempt to reposition the tooth to its normal alignment using very light finger pressure, but do not force the tooth.
- Bite down to keep the tooth from moving.
- Your dentist may splint the tooth in place to the two healthy teeth next to the loose tooth.
We need to talk about – Missing Teeth
Your teeth are the result of a fascinating evolutionary process which has given you teeth that can bear the enormous loads of chewing your food, as well as keeping out infective organisms in an environment rich in nutrients.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that once you have reached middle age your teeth have fulfilled their evolutionary purpose – they have not evolved to survive much beyond 50 years and, as we know, we are living much longer these days. We can do much in the way of hygiene and care to extend the life of our teeth, but we cannot change nature!
For much of our lifetimes, loss of teeth through ageing has been dealt with through a variety of prosthetic techniques – known to most people as crowns, bridges, dentures, or just ‘false teeth’. These all shared two shortcomings – they were prone to mechanical failure, and they did nothing to preserve the bone around the site of the lost tooth.
Bone is living tissue, constantly replacing and replenishing itself. Just as children’s bones grow stronger when they experience the stress of contact sports, so the bone surrounding teeth needs the stress of biting to stimulate growth. Once a tooth is lost, the cup-like bony structure in which it used to live is deprived of these stresses and starts to be absorbed back into the body.
In the latter part of the 20th century it was found that bone “loves” titanium, responding to contact with it by growing around it – dentists call it ‘integration’. Soon, dentists were starting to use titanium implants, inserted into the patient’s bone, for supporting “false” teeth.
A thrilling alternative to replacing missing teeth with wobbly dentures was born.
Implant dentistry is a bewilderingly complex field. The human facial bones show some of the greatest variations in shape and bone type found anywhere in the body. Implant design has evolved to the point where clinicians who have a profound understanding of the implant field have available to them an implant for every case.
Dr Short has studied implant dentistry for decades, loves it, and continues to extend her education at every opportunity.
“My first concern is to preserve and extend the life of natural teeth”, says Sandra. “Next to saving a natural tooth, though, giving people with missing teeth back the natural function of their teeth, with a great smile into the bargain, is one of the most rewarding aspects of my profession.”
Whether you are missing a single tooth or have extensively failing teeth, a consultation with Dr Sandra Short will provide you with all the options available to restore your bite – and your smile!
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