Teeth undergo heavy stresses and strains during eating (mastication) or habitual grinding (bruxism), as well as clenching, which causes fractures and cracks resulting in a broken tooth or even broken teeth.
There are many different types of tooth fractures. However not all broken teeth require emergency dental treatment. A thorough examination and history of the patient and the circumstances regarding how and when the tooth became broken must be considered.
It is quite common for a frontal filling to come out or become lost. Although not a life-threatening situation, the lost filling should be replaced as soon as possible. The lost filling may have been made of amalgam composite resin or ceramic.
Denture wearers have often been severely inconvenienced by situations where broken dentures occur. The broken dentures result in patients having major problems with eating and speaking, which often results in major social embarrassment. While not a life-threatening dental emergency, the denture wearer most likely wants the broken denture fixed immediately.
A crown or bridge is a prosthetic cemented onto the remaining tooth structure to replace missing teeth structure in the case of a crown, or an entire tooth in the case of a bridge. Crowns and bridges can often become loose or fall off. Sometimes the cement bond used to cement on the crown or bridge fails and the crown or bridge becomes unstable. Habits such as bruxism, grinding, or eating sticky candies or foods, as well as trauma, can also break the cement bond. Each day the teeth are subjected to heavy biting or mastication forces. If the crown or bridge comes right off then the exposed tooth structure may become very temperature-sensitive as the nerve in the teeth becomes stimulated. Potential causes of broken crowns or bridges include improper cementation, inadequate preparation or retention, or physical trauma.
An abscess is a localization of pus on any part of the body with pus being extravasated white blood cells. The presence of pus means that the body is or was fighting an infection. Abscesses may have the symptoms of fever and swelling.
The article addresses adult teeth and not milk or baby teeth. A knocked-out tooth also known as an avulsed tooth is a tooth that has been removed entirely from the bone socket, including the root. A chipped tooth should not be confused with a knocked-out tooth.
These orthodontic emergencies are very rare. In the case of orthodontic treatment, brackets often detach and come off, wires protrude or poke into soft tissues, or sometimes complicated orthodontic devices break apart or become disassembled. All of these occurrences can cause mild to severe discomfort and often anxiety. Sometimes the soft tissue can become infected, but this is rarely an emergency. Fortunately there are few true orthodontic emergencies. Situations such as a wire embedded in the cheek or broken appliance not allowing closure or opening of the mouth should be addressed as soon as possible.
Endodontics or root canal therapy is a dental procedure whereby the nerve or pulp found in the canal or the root of the tooth is removed and the canal is then filled or obturated with a rubber like called gutta-percha. The pulp tissue once infected undergoes an irreversible degeneration and cannot be repaired.
Many dental emergencies are inevitably caused by neglect. Many individuals wait until the pain from a tooth, and the anxiety resulting from it, becomes intolerable, which varies from patient to patient. The pain from a toothache, however, is not a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate extraction, but is often required for pain relief.