Some of us have seen the exposed tooth nerve picture floating around the Internet, and it serves as an example of how easy it can be to injure your smile with even the slightest slip-up when you floss or brush. Fortunately, though, dental injuries like these usually aren’t permanent, and if treated quickly, they can often heal themselves in a short period of time without much intervention required on your part. Here’s how to handle an exposed tooth nerve so you can get back to smiling as soon as possible!
What is an exposed tooth nerve?
A lot of people have questions about what to do when a tooth comes in lopsided. That is, they wonder if a tilted tooth can go back into place on its own or if a dentist needs to do something about it. Fortunately, things like overbites and crossbites usually resolve themselves within just a few months; however, it can take much longer for crooked teeth that are chipped or broken—or whose nerves are exposed—to straighten out. Here’s what you need to know about exposing these nerves and how you should proceed.
Causes of exposed tooth nerves
Tooth fractures, gum disease and dental procedures. Teeth fractures often occur when teeth are knocked out of alignment, for example by biting down on a hard object. It’s important to get your teeth checked immediately after any accident because exposed nerves can cause pain or infection that might not be easy to spot in early stages. Gum disease: Exposed tooth nerves can also be caused by gum disease. In order to avoid damaging your gums, you should make sure you have regular professional cleaning appointments every six months and maintain good oral hygiene at home using soft-bristled brushes and floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from around your teeth (brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste). Gum disease can increase your risk of other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
What can be done about it
If your exposed tooth nerve is still new, you can simply apply pressure to it with a cotton swab until it goes away. (it’s worth noting that it should go away fairly quickly, as exposed nerves are vulnerable to infection.) If your exposed tooth nerve has been there for some time, then something more severe may be going on: You could have advanced gum disease or a cracked or chipped tooth. It’s important that you visit your dentist right away if you notice your front teeth feeling loose and wobbly, as they could begin to fall out at any moment. In addition to seeing a dentist who will likely pull those teeth and put in dentures, you may need antibiotics.
How long does it take for a repair to happen naturally?
An exposed tooth nerve will heal in around 10 days, but often needs a little help. Before that happens, however, it’s usually best to go see your dentist and let them take care of it so they can give you some pain relief while you wait. Your dentist may be able to simply push down on your gum and put everything back in place without requiring any invasive procedures. If that doesn’t work, or if you have an exposed nerve for a long period of time (in which case a biopsy would probably be required), it may require treatment with surgery. Be sure to ask your dentist about getting root canal treatment if that’s what is recommended.
The answer to that question is yes. Exposed tooth nerves are very painful and can be uncomfortable, but they’re also common and, if you’re looking closely enough at your mouth, it’s quite possible you might see a gingival flap or two. To help understand exposed tooth nerves and how to handle them when you see one, we sat down with Dr. Doug Chayka. Dr. Chayka is a Restorative Dentist in our Dallas office; he had lots of interesting things to say about repairing exposed teeth roots during restorations: This isn’t too uncommon especially in heavily restored teeth.