A dental emergency over Christmas is no fun. Broken teeth, fillings and dentures make up the majority of dental problems seen over the Christmas and holiday period. At Riverstone Family Dental we believe in addressing issues early so you can have an awesome and stress-free Christmas holiday. Therefore, I have also suggested some tips for avoiding or resolving these problems.
Broken tooth or filling
The number one culprit of cracked, chipped or broken teeth and fillings is pork crackling. This is closely followed by very hard and sticky lollies including minties, redskins and the good old candy cane. Broken teeth lose the hardness and strength of enamel and require replacement with a filling. If a tooth is chipped, there may be an option to polish it down depending on the size of the defect – your dentist will advise you if this is possible. Remember that a broken or missing filling or lost tooth structure makes you more prone to sensitivity, food trapping or further breakdown of the tooth if you do not place a filling. The sooner you fix these problems, the easier and faster the treatment. This is because over time, food trapping and further breakdown may create a cavity which can progress towards the nerve inside the tooth.
- Gently brushing and flossing will keep the area around the broken tooth or filling clean until you can see your dentist
- See a dentist straight away if the tooth is sensitive or sore
- Avoid eating on that side until you get it fixed so you do not break more off the tooth
- Chew your food slowly and avoid anything too hard or sticky – especially if you do not have access to cleaning your teeth after eating it
- Maintain your regular checkups and cleans so your dentist can assess whether older fillings may need replacing soon
I don’t mean to alarm you, but a cracked tooth can be a big problem. When a tooth has a small crack, it can progress over time into the nerve and even split the tooth. As you chew, clench and grind your teeth, you place them under a lot of stress and which can turn a small crack into a big crack. It is similar to a small crack in your car window – you know that over time this crack cannot just disappear, it will always be there. You know this crack can only ever become larger and unfortunately, tooth structure can act in the same way unless it is protected. Preventing a crack is therefore much easier, so how can you do this? Firstly, some cracks are unavoidable. For example, biting into a date which you thought was pitted but turns out it had a pit in it! See your dentist immediately and start testing the tooth to assess your treatment options. Other cracks can form due to parafunction – this is when you clench or grind your teeth at night (bruxism). In adults, these habits are usually stress-related. So a good place to start would be stress management. If this is not possible, then from a dental perspective, I genuinely recommend you wear a splint (nightguard) to protect your teeth from the aggressive wear that can happen from bruxism.
- Try and schedule in 10 minutes before bed for ‘winding down’. Some ways to wind down include:
- avoiding stimulants (coffee and tea) after 4pm
- If you are prone to grinding or clenching your teeth, then get a splint (nightguard) made. It involves a straightforward appointment where molds of your teeth are taken and your bite assessed and then issue of the appliance
- When you eat, make sure you bite evenly and are not favouring one side or chewing just on your front teeth
- Chew gently when eating foods that may have a pit in them
Upper and lower dentures can break over Christmas time. While visiting family and friends your diet may change as you will be at lunches and dinners possibly eating harder foods than usual. This may lead to fractures in a loose or old dentures. Loose dentures are more prone to breaking when used to bite into hard foods. This is because with a lot of chewing pressure, an old and severely worn down denture can break alot easier than a well-fitted, new denture. Another problem that may arise with dentures over Christmas time is that while visiting family and friends or travelling, you may forget to pack a denture case/container. If you forget this and your denture is lying around, you may accidentally drop it, sit on it or have it mistakingly thrown out! This may mean you go without teeth until the new year.
- Store your dentures in a glass of water overnight
- When not in the mouth during the day, store them in a denture case
- ensure your denture is cleaned with a toothbrush and warm, soapy water
- dry your denture so you avoid bacteria or fungal growth before storing it away
- Cut your food into small pieces
- If you are eating different foods that you are not accustomed to, be careful if they are hard
- Chew on both sides of your dentures rather than favouring one side
- Carry a spare denture adhesive tube, just in case your dentures start to feel loose or as an extra reinforcement if you are eating hard foods
- If you start to get a sore spot, leave your denture out whilst eating and stick to soft foods until you can see your dentist for an adjustment
- If you break your dentures please do NOT try and repair them yourself with a nail file or glue – wait until you can see your dentist for a repair
Oral health is all about prevention. But sometimes accidents happen and you may need a dentist last minute. Be sure to find a dentist who can help you during these times.
Need a caring, family dentist for a broken tooth, filling or denture?
Call Riverstone Family Dental on: (02) 8678 3538
today – don’t wait till Christmas!