Category Archives: News

Diagnosing Tooth Pain

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“Ouch–my tooth hurts!

Tooth pain is not fun. And sometimes it means that you need to see your dentist. However, some tooth pain can be handled by knowing what to do. Here we share some tooth problems and symptoms and what the most likely cause is.

Do you have pain when you bite down on something?

This could be due to several reasons: you could have a loose filling, or your tooth might be cracked. If there is a crack or even if there is not, there could be decay. You’ll need to visit your dentist to find out what is wrong with that tooth, but you can examine it closely yourself. Make sure you do not have any food particles wedged into it.

When you have something hot or cold in your mouth, do you get a twinge of pain in a tooth?

Having sensitivity to cold or hot foods usually does not mean you have a problem. Especially if the discomfort lasts just a few seconds. You could have a slightly loose filling or a small area exposed that is sensitive that is near the tooth root, maybe in a tooth that you’ve had worked on. Another cause is mild gum recession. You can try switching to a toothpaste made just for sensitive teeth. Brush your teeth several times a day with it, or you can apply the toothpaste to the sensitive area two or three times a day just using your finger. If it doesn’t help you, make an appointment with your dentist.

Having sensitivity to hot or cold foods after a dental treatment is normal, due to there being a bit of inflammation from the dental work. If you still have discomfort after several weeks, you should return to the dentist.

Any time that you have pain or discomfort for a minute or more after eating something hot or cold, you have pulp damage…decay that needs to be taken care of. If decay is extensive, often a root canal is done to save the tooth.

Do you have pretty serious pain, possibly combined with pressure and some swelling?

This means you have a cavity and possibly even an abscessed tooth. When you have pressure and swelling of your gums around the tooth and it hurts when you touch it, this is likely to be an abscess, which makes the bone around the tooth infected and sore. You can use an analgesic from the drugstore until you can get to the dentist. Endodontists specialize in working on this type of tooth problem so your dentist may recommend an endodontist or you could make an appointment with one directly.

Do you have pain in your ear, your face, your neck or maybe a spot on your head?

If no other answer seems obvious, do not rule out a tooth problem. A decayed tooth can cause pain in various places. But of course, there could be more going on. You should see an endodontist to fully examine your teeth and find the “root” (smile) of the problem.

Do you have an ache or pressure around your teeth and your jaws?

Sometimes a sinus condition can cause aching in the teeth and jaws so you can try sinus medicine to see if it alleviates the problem. It is also possible that you are a teeth grinder. Clenching or grinding your teeth at night while you sleep can cause aches and pains in your mouth area the next day. You can try wearing a guard over your teeth at night and see if this alleviates the problem.

In general, if you have tooth pain that persists, don’t ignore it…because if there is decay or gum disease, it will only get worse. The sooner you see your dentist, the better. Pain relief products should only be a temporary solution until your dental office visit.


How to Prevent Bad Breath

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Have you ever been in a packed crowd when suddenly, the stranger beside you breathes in your face—and you wrinkle your nose at the bad odor?

We all know that halitosis—commonly known as bad breath—exists, but we avoid it at all costs. Also, we never, ever think we could have it ourselves.


Eighty-five percent of us will suffer from halitosis sometime, so it’s smart to wise up about it. But because bad breath is relatively easy to prevent, it makes sense to first focus on the prevention rather than the cure.


Since halitosis feeds mainly on bacteria, the key ingredient in prevention is excellent oral hygiene. So if you want your breath to stay sweet, keep the following dental tips in mind:

  • Get regular dental checkups and cleanings, preferably twice a year.

Only your dentist can determine if you have an underlying dental condition–such as tooth decay—that might contribute to halitosis. Your dental hygienist will remove any buildup of tartar that could cause bad breath. If you experience tartar buildup quickly, you should see your hygienist for a cleaning every three months.

  • Brush and floss daily to remove food particles trapped between teeth or in your gum line. Add mouthwash to your morning routine.

Residual food fragments help cause bad breath. For this reason, remember to brush after a heavy meal, no matter when it occurs. Today, there are many mini-dental products on the market, including mouthwash.  Pack them in your bag or briefcase and use them at work. The more you brush, the fresher your breath.

  • Clean your tongue, especially towards the back, to remove bacteria.

Scientists know that the tongue is home to some pungent bacteria, so use your toothbrush to sweep your tongue gently. For a better scrubbing, try a tongue-cleaner. Mouthwash also works.

  • Keep hydrated during the day.

Many of us wake up with “morning breath” and know we shouldn’t kiss anyone until we’ve brushed our teeth. What we may not realize is that a better term for morning breath is “dry mouth”, due to less saliva produced while we are asleep. Saliva is a natural mouthwash: it is anti-bacterial and washes away food particles. A dry mouth—whether at midnight or noon—can quickly cause unpleasant breath. Get rid of it by brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue, and swishing with mouthwash. During the day, keep hydrated to encourage salivation. When you are congested, you will often find yourself with a dry, crusty mouth, so remember to take extra steps to sweeten your breath.

  • Rinse your mouth with tap water after drinking and eating.

A simple and easy step. Water washes away food particles and helps restore the pH levels in your mouth to a healthy concentration.

  • Avoid spicy foods, sodas, coffee, and alcohol.

Garlic, onions, and your spicy cuisine of choice can stay on the menu, but be aware they can create bad breath. Try limiting smoking, coffee, sodas and alcohol, and make sure to rinse your mouth after drinking any liquids. Out for a night on the town? Take along emergency breath-busters such as gum, breath mints or dissolving breath strips.

  • Quit smoking.

Smoking encourages plaque buildup, which breeds the bacteria that cause unpleasant breath. Also, smoking contributes to a dry mouth. Less saliva equals halitosis. Finally, smokers are much more likely to suffer foul-smelling oral infections and disease than non-smokers are.

  • Look for natural breath fresheners.

Green tea, cinnamon sticks, parsley, mint, and dill are some of nature’s cures for bad breath. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit not only sweeten your breath, but also kill oral bacteria. In addition, crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as celery or apples, help remove trapped food and encourage salivation.

  • See your physician.

Halitosis is linked to stress, diabetes, stomach problems, sinusitis, and bronchitis. If your bad breath simply won’t quit, you may have an undiagnosed medical problem.



Our Tooth Enamel – Preventing Decay

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Tooth enamel is a powerful substance in the human body that protects teeth from daily wear caused by chewing. Food and drinks have acids and chemicals at various levels that can be harmful for teeth as well. Enamel can protect you from the erosive side effects of what you consume. However, your tooth enamel is not resistant to decay. High levels of acids from soft drinks and sweets can eventually wear out the enamel and leave the tooth more susceptible to surface loss. Behind the enamel exterior is dentin, which is less dense and cannot protect the tooth as effectively from bacteria and erosive effects.

Enamel decay continues to be a growing problem due to unhealthy diets and improper dental hygiene. One of the most easily recognizable signs of tooth decay is sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages. Remember that enamel is supposed to protect us from the acids and chemicals that are inside the food we eat. But when it wears down, the nerves within the tooth come in contact with the acids and are stimulated from the food’s extreme temperatures.

A tooth’s appearance can also show whether it has suffered from enamel loss.  Yellowed teeth are a sign of a thinning enamel surface. Another sign of enamel decay are rough or irregular edges of a tooth. Smooth and shiny surfaces on teeth could be the result of mineral loss, which is caused by enamel erosion. Fortunately, there are several solutions that can help protect and build your enamel.

1. Minimize the amount of acid in your diet.

One of the most effective ways to avoid enamel loss is to cut back on drinks that are high in acid levels, such as carbonated sodas and juice. Although orange juice can be healthy in vitamins, it can be detrimental to your teeth. Look for low-acid orange juice as a safer alternative for breakfast. Sometimes people have trouble avoiding a sweet drink after making it a routine in their diet. One way to help cut back is to designate soda or juice during mealtimes, and never as a stand-alone snack.

2. Finish your meal with a glass of water.

Drinking some water can help remove some of the acids left from the food.

3. Brush your teeth at least one hour after you are exposed to acidic foods and drinks.

After you have had a meal, the acids remain and make your enamel soft. If you were to brush your teeth while the enamel was still soft, you could cause more erosion during brushing.

4. Include fluoride in your hygiene.

Fluoride helps enamel to build up. You can purchase toothpaste and/or mouth wash that has fluoride.

5. Use a soft brush.

The best way to brush your teeth is with a soft brush. It is also important to use gentle and slow motions as you brush. Harsh brushing movements can be abrasive and remove enamel.

While enamel decay is a growing problem in today’s health, there are several solutions that everyone can make in their daily routine. Help yourself to a healthier smile!


The Truth About Teeth Whitening: Facts and Methods, Part II

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If you’re thinking of whitening your teeth, there are several choices in how to do it and what product to use. Below we will review the following methods:

Over The Counter, Professional, Take-Home, Online and In-Office whitening products and procedures, for you to compare.

Over-The-Counter Products

Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening gels and solutions are affordable and give fast results. Since they contain a lower percentage of Hydrogen Peroxide than products supplied by dental professionals, be aware you will need to apply them to your teeth with some frequency in order to keep your smile bright.

Keep in mind, also, that some OTC products, such as whitening toothpaste, merely remove surface stain on tooth enamel. If you brush your teeth with whitening toothpaste on a daily basis, your enamel could begin to wear down, causing tooth abrasion.

Professional Take-Home or Online Products

Professional take-home or online products from your dentist are a high concentrate of either Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide, providing results in one to two weeks of prescribed use. Some online suppliers claim whitening of 2-5 shades.

The process involves pouring teeth-whitening gel or solution into custom-fit trays. The trays must then sit on the surface of the tooth so that the sensitive gum area is only slightly exposed to the bleaching solution.

The cost of these products is considerably less that in-office whitening, but typically not covered under dental insurance plans. Some people report they sometimes forget to use the products or have a difficult time remembering to use them.

Professional In-Office Procedures

At the dentist’s office, you get what you pay for. In a controlled environment and supervised by a dentist, your teeth will be whitened with a high concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide. If you’re looking for a quick smile fix in a hurry, this is the best choice, since results are seen in as little as one hour.

Another professional lightening technique uses a laser. Your dentist will apply a 35 per cent Hydrogen Peroxide solution to your teeth. Then, a light will be held a couple of inches away from your teeth to speed up the bleaching process.

Although these procedures are regarded as the best options for teeth whitening, they are expensive, and dental plans typical don’t cover them.

The Best Choice for You

It’s a fact that teeth whitening products and procedures work. For both men and women, at affordable prices, and often within a very short amount of time.

Bleaching techniques are now so advanced that even some deep-set, stubborn stains can be removed.  If your teeth are heavily stained, your best bet might be a professional, take-home whitening kit that you maintain over a period of months or even a year.

Maintenance is key no matter which whitening process you choose because bleaching isn’t permanent. In time, stains will re-appear on dental enamel, and organic debris will re-enter enamel cracks, leaving teeth looking dull or dingy.

Regular “touch ups” will help you maintain their lighter shade.  Some people can limit touch-ups to once a year; others will need them more often. With touch-ups, you can stick with the bleaching method you first used, or switch to another one.

Don’t expect miracles when you first whiten your teeth, no matter how you choose to do it. Expectations should be realistic, since teeth results vary from person to person.

The shade tooth color guides used by dentists show that most of us who bleach our teeth are likely to see a change of two to seven shades—significant “before and after” results.  Some lucky individuals see a change of nine shades or more.

If you are disappointed at first in your whitening results, remember that they are not fully seen until approximately two weeks after bleaching.






The Truth About Teeth Whitening:Facts and Methods, Part I

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Dreaming about a flashing, white smile?

If you visit a drugstore and see the wide variety of teeth whitening products available, you already know obtaining that smile is easier and more affordable than ever. But you probably stand there wondering what works?

Today, there are three common approaches to whiten teeth:

  1. Over-the-counter products: white strips and trays; whitening toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinse; gum or breath strips
  2. 2. Professional take-home (or online) products
  3. 3. Professional in-office procedures

Before you decide which choice is best for you, it’s a good idea to know some facts about teeth, and specifically, YOUR teeth.

The Skinny on Teeth

The top surface of your tooth is enamel, a clear or translucent layer. The next layer is dentin–typically yellow, but it also can be grey, brown or black. This hue penetrates through the enamel and displays the natural color of your teeth.

As you age, your pearly whites will begin to darken due to a variety of causes such as:

  • genetics
  • staining substances such as smoking, coffee, tea, and colas
  • old fillings
  • antibiotic staining
  • excessive fluoride

Fortunately, there’s a fast, safe technique for making teeth appear white again, without damaging the tooth structure.  And the technique isn’t new. It’s old-fashioned bleaching.

The reason why bleaching doesn’t harm the structure of teeth is because enamel is porous. When you place Hydrogen Peroxide—or similar chemical bleaching solution–on the surface of tooth enamel, its pores will open and allow the solution to penetrate down to the layer of dentin. Once the solution has reached the dentin, the solution will start to bleach the dentin, resulting in the appearance of whiter teeth.

Now that you know how the whitening process works on healthy teeth, you should know that it does NOT work on dental fillings, crowns, and bonding. People who have had root canals, people with hypersensitive teeth, and pregnant women also should double-check with their dentist before whitening their teeth.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll discuss Over The Counter, Professional, Take-Home, Online and In-Office whitening products and procedures, for you to compare.

Whitening products tend to produce the best results on teeth with a natural yellow hue rather than with a grey or brown hue. Although results are usually quick, it may take several treatments before you achieve your whitest smile. Of course, your dentist or endodontist can make recommendations on teeth whitening – just ask!






Use of Lasers In Dentistry

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Technology has allowed the medical field to make many procedures faster and less painful. This applies to dentistry as well. Lasers have become widely accepted in many types of medical practice, and were first used in dentistry in 1994.

Lasers work by producing energy in the form of light. It is rather amazing that a tiny beam of light can actually be used as a cutting instrument. It vaporizes the tissue. This light energy also produces heat, which is why it is used to bond fillings and help lighten/whiten teeth. However, if a tooth already has a filling in it, lasers cannot be used. Compared to traditional cutting tools, a laser is extremely sterile—completely germ-free – and actually kills bacteria. Areas worked on by laser typically heal faster than with traditional methods.

Lasers can be used in several ways by dental offices. They can remove decay within a tooth or be used to harden/set a filling. They are frequently used to make in-office teeth whitening happen faster. The laser activates the bleaching solution that is placed on the surface of the teeth. Lasers are also used to move tissue such as a lesion in the mouth or a canker sore. They are used whenever a piece of tissue needs to be sent for examination—a biopsy. They can also be used to eliminate bacteria and even to reshape gums.

The use of lasers has become increasingly popular in root canal procedures. Endodontists—dentists who specialize in root canals—are finding lasers to be highly effective in providing pain-free, less time-consuming root canals. It is interesting to note that when lasers are used with soft tissue, sutures are typically not needed. Bleeding is also minimized.

Laser dentistry is very precise. It’s an effective way to perform certain dental procedures. It requires the dentist’s ability to control the power level of the laser as well as the length of time that the laser is exposed to the tissue or tooth. With skill, it is the ideal tool for treating a very small, specific area. Damage to surrounding tissue is reduced or completely eliminated.

Ask your dentist if they utilize lasers in treatment of patients. More and more dentists and especially endodontists are incorporating lasers into their everyday practice.  Depending on the situation, use of lasers can sometimes mean that anesthesia is not needed. For people who may have anxiety about dental procedures, use of a laser can help reassure them that the procedure just might not bother them at all!


Choosing a Dentist – What to Look For

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Not all dentists are alike. You obviously have choices when it comes to dental care. Maybe you have not been to the dentist in a long time, or maybe you don’t care for your current dentist and would like to make a switch. Whatever the reason, choosing a new dentist is an important decision. So what should you look for and how should you make your choice?

There are many things to consider when choosing a dentist. Obviously you want their office to be in physical proximity to either your home or your workplace. Visit the office to see that it is clean and orderly. Find out what the hours are and make sure that they are convenient for your schedule.

Seven out of 10 dentists are members of the American Dental Association and this provides credibility and assurance for consumers. Members of this organization agree to abide by the high ethical standards set by the ADA.

Determine the education of the dentist – don’t hesitate to ask about their degree. You want them to be a DDS—Dr. of Dental Surgery or DMD—Dr. of Dental Medicine, which are the same degree. They should be board certified by the ADA.

You always want a dentist that takes time to explain things and has time to speak with patients. Call your potential new dental office and ask to speak with the dentist. You can make up a dental question if you like. If they seem unwilling to speak to you or don’t call back promptly, then you know they will most likely be the same way when you are their patient. Good dentists take a personal interest in their patients’ health.

Find out how they handle emergencies outside of office hours. If you crack a tooth or have serious tooth pain when their office is closed, will they see you?

You of course want to find out about fees and payments—what methods of payment do they accept? If you have insurance then you obviously need to find out if they accept it.

If possible, try and speak to some current patients of this dentist. If they do quality work, the work lasts a long time. Low-quality work will decay or fall out in a few years. Good dental work takes time to do so if patients are not with the dentist very long, this is a sign that they may be doing lower quality work. You can also ask if they are or work with an endodontist, which is a dentist who specializes in root canals, and the type of dentist you want should you ever need this procedure.

One last reminder—if you are changing dentists, make sure to ask your previous dentist to provide you with your permanent records so that you can give them to your new dental office.


Do You Have A Healthy Dental Diet? The Best Foods For Your Teeth

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Your pearly whites are on the front lines in the battle against damage and decay. Know your enemies when it comes to fighting gum disease and tooth decay by exploring which foods are a healthy choice and which can have a damaging effect.

When Sugar is Not So Sweet

Ever wondered what the difference was between sugar-filled and sugar-free food? For the health of your teeth it makes all the difference in the world. Keep your smile bright and cavity free by cutting back on sweets and when possible, using artificial sugar replacements such as isomalt, mannitol, erythritol, and sorbitol. Unlike real sugar, corn syrup, honey and molasses, these sweeteners don’t contribute to the overgrowth of bacteria in your mouth. Some natural sugar is OK, but must be limited.

Crunching Cavities: One Vegetable at a Time

Other foods can benefit your dental health as well. You might have already guessed that the foods that support your overall health would be better for your teeth. Crunchy vegetables like celery that can produce more bacteria-fighting saliva; carrots that can help remove plaque; and onions, which produce powerful anti-bacterial sulfur compounds — are all good choices. Similarly, fruits like crunchy apples and pears can massage swollen gums and keep plaque at bay.

Dairy Does the Trick

What about calcium for tooth support? Did you know that some dairy products can aid in improving dental health? You can actually prevent tooth erosion and decay by consuming milk and yogurt. These low-acidity foods are also high in calcium, which strengthens teeth and bones. Sunflower seeds are also high in calcium and help build tooth enamel.

Good Old Fashioned H2O

After eating your fruits, veggies, seeds and cheese—make sure to wash it all down with a nice cold glass of water! Fluorinated water is the best option. Besides keeping all facets of your form in working order, it’s a secret weapon for healthy teeth. Whether it’s rinsing out food particles and plaque, hydrating your gums, or helping you to produce more saliva—water is a powerful protection against dental disease.

Tea is also a good source of fluoride for teeth. Unlike its sugary counterparts such as soda, lemonade, juices and energy drinks—it doesn’t have excessive amounts of sugar, which can rot teeth by stripping minerals from tooth enamel. Sipping these sugary drinks over prolonged period of time also helps to produce consistent amounts of acid. Sodas are best avoided.

The Cavity Culprits

Wondering what else you should steer clear of? Some of the worst foods for your dental health include sour candy—which has added acids to create their tartness and flavor.  Another type of food that is not tooth-friendly…starchy carbohydrates like bread and potato chips that can wedge in-between teeth and become a hardy meal for bacteria to feast on. Even unsuspecting (sugar filled) cough drops can have a negative effect on teeth.

Your teeth need nutrients just as much as the rest of you. Eating the right foods and practicing healthy habits such as daily flossing and twice-daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste are easy ways to protect your mouth.



Anxious About the Dentist? Three Keys to Relief!

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Has it been six months already? That appointment reminder in the mail has set your mind running and upped your heart rate. What if I have a cavity? What if it’s painful?

For some people, going to the dentist is a small fear that they never grew out of after childhood. They don’t like the thought of going to the dental office, and they associate dentistry with anxiety. Yet good dental health is imperative. So how can one overcome being anxious over dental work?

The key to eliminating that anxiety is a mix of preparation, consultation and explanation.


Want a dentist with excellent bedside manner? There are plenty of health review websites that allow patients to research the dentists on their insurance plans. Sometimes there are star ratings for things like:

  • Knowledge
  • Bedside Manner
  • Quality of Staff
  • Cleanliness of Office
  • Punctuality

Some websites allow written reviews that you can read. Here you’ll be able to read real stories of past patients who have had both positive and negative experiences. Knowing your doctor has good reviews and happy patients will help you to feel comfortable and self-assured during your visit. Of course, you can ask your friends or coworkers to recommend a good dentist as well.


During your appointment, don’t be shy about letting your dental assistant and dentist know you’re anxious. This is something they come across very often in their practice and they’ll be experts at doing their part in quelling your fear. You should feel free to ask your dentist what he’ll do during the appointment, what sort of education and experience he has—and what sort of pain killing and anxiety-reducing drugs (such as Novocain, Nitrous Oxide or IV Sedation)  he uses. Learn and understand your options. Often, dentists will allow you to come in for a separate consultation before your appointment to get work done. This way they can show you the facilities, explain what happens during the appointment and give you an estimate on the price.


Narration can be a helpful tool when it comes to anxiety. Ask your dentist and dental assistant to explain what they’re doing as they’re doing it. You’ll find that those loud noises and bright lights will be somewhat more welcomed when you know what they’re used for. Ask them to tell you when to expect pain, dryness, or pressure. Much anxiety is created from the point of not knowing what’s happening—or anticipating a pain or unpleasantness that you aren’t even sure is coming.

Root canals are especially concerning for those with “dental anxiety”. By going to an endodontist – someone who has had additional schooling and training to perform root canal procedures – some of that stress can be alleviated. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist to recommend an endodontist if a root canal is needed.

Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be fraught with drama and trauma. You do have tools at your disposal to help you feel more in control of the situation.  Follow the three simple rules—Preparation—Consultation—and Explanation—and your next visit will be easy as (sugar-free) pie!


Teeth Knocked Out in Sports Play – What to do

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We all hope that we would never lose a tooth. If we have children, we certainly don’t want to see them get their teeth knocked out. But—accidents do happen, especially in sports. If you are around when a friend, relative, or child has a tooth or teeth knocked out during sports play, you will be glad that you read this article.

Most people would never attempt to put the tooth back in, but that is exactly what you should do. Rinse the tooth off and gently nuzzle it back into its socket.  A tooth that has been suddenly dislodged is called an “avulsed” tooth.  Tiny blood vessels and nerves are greatly damaged when this happens. However, there is always a chance that the tooth can be saved and re-implanted if great care is taken to keep it moist and to get to an Endodontist as quickly as possible.

Think of how you can pull a plant up out of the ground with roots still attached, and if you replant it quickly, it will probably live. But quickly is the key. The same goes for teeth, and children’s teeth have a better chance of being successfully reimplanted then adult teeth. How you handle the tooth after it has been knocked out is extremely important.

Try to avoid touching the root area and only hold the tooth by the crown. Do not wipe the tooth off with a cloth or your shirt. Ideally, you should rinse it with milk but if you don’t have milk then use water. If for some reason you cannot put the tooth back in its socket until reaching the dentist office, then you should place it in some milk or salt water or it can be carried inside the mouth. What is important is that it stays wet and is not allowed to dry out.

It should go back into the socket fairly easily but make sure the tooth is facing the correct way. If you are having trouble, don’t force it—use the milk or the person’s own saliva to keep the tooth moist until arriving at the dental facility.

If possible you should see an Endodontist because they are dentists who are experienced at working with the root of the tooth and saving teeth. They are root canal experts and will consider an avulsed tooth a dental emergency, because they understand how important it is to act quickly to save the tooth. What is amazing is that tiny ligaments in the root of your tooth will naturally reattach to the gums if given the chance.

Reimplanting a knocked out tooth is not always successful, but it is always worth trying. The tooth probably won’t last as long as it normally would have, but it can last for many years and then a permanent solution can be used.

Mouth guards are designed to prevent tooth loss from happening. But often, both children and adults alike won’t bother to wear a mouth guard when they are participating in a sport or recreational activity. Mouth guards work very well and we strongly recommend their use. Watch for a future article about mouth guards.