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Tell me my tooth is not going to fall out!
September 5, 2011 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I got bashed in the face yesterday. Please tell me my tooth is not going to die. I know you are not my dentist. I am not sure if I need to go to the dentist. Yesterday afternoon at the cafe, I reached up high to move some kids' books that were stacked horizontally on the shelf above our BookCrossing shelf. Unbeknownst to me, balanced on the books, and totally invisible to anyone but a basketball champion, was a ceramic bowl filled with crayons. The bowl fell off the books and onto my upturned face, a distance of about 2-3 feet, I suppose. It bashed me on my filtrum, right over my right hand big tooth at the front. Hit the, well, the filtrum, hitting that and my upper lip into my gum (I seem to have bitten my lower lip and jarred my bottom teeth too). It bounced off and smashed on the floor. No bruise yet but really tender and I am scared I have damaged my tooth's root and the tooth will suddenly die!

More info: no bruise on filtrum tho it's sore - a red mark on upper lip. Inner upper lip was cut on the teeth (I think the canine) and bled a little. Gum above tooth as well as lip/filtrum in and out is sore but not unbearable today. I iced it (ice cubes in a tea towel) as soon as it happened. Swelling is noticeable to those who know me well, not my colleagues. No tooth is chipped or marked.

And btw the staff in the cafe were great and did the accident book etc.

I would appreciate anecdotal stories of MeFites bashing their lips/gums even harder than I did, bruises and all, but their teeth NOT dying. I don't even know if this is possible but I know if you hit your finger below the nail, the nail will often drop off. Note, I do not want photos please, I am v v squeamish!

Thank you! I'm very shaken by the whole thing - I think because the psychological contract of the cafe being somewhere I go every week and feel safe there is broken.
posted by LyzzyBee to Health & Fitness (24 answers total)
When is your appointment with the dentist?
posted by jayder at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Because nothing has dropped out or been chipped or even bled that much, I'm really not sure whether I need to go - that's why I'm asking on here. I don't even know if you can bash your gum like this and then something happens days later - I spose I'm hoping for "if it is still hurting in x days' time, then go to the dentist".

E.g. my other half bit so hard on something hard in food that he was convinced he'd cracked a tooth. Was in agony. Went to dentist - had bruised the gum.
posted by LyzzyBee at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2011

Call your dentist (leave a message if it is a holiday) and ask if you need to come in. My dentist is good with emergencies.
posted by pinky at 10:46 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you not have dental insurance? If you don't have a reason to avoid the dentist beyond not being sure it's necessary, I'd say a quick trip to the dentist would be the very best way to get the reassurance you're looking for. Mine can usually fit me in on short notice for quick emergency check-ups between other patients.
posted by ootandaboot at 10:46 AM on September 5, 2011

I think any answer short of "see your dentist" would be irresponsible of people here. What if you rely on the "wait seven days and if it still hurts, see the dentist," and then you see your dentist after a week, and the dentist says, "You should have come to see me right away! We could have fixed this if you'd come sooner! Why didn't you?" and you say, "Some anonymous person with a silly moniker on the internet told me to wait seven days."
posted by jayder at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have dental insurance but I do live in the UK and have an NHS dentist, so the cost will not be nothing but won't be too painful. I guess I'm just not sure whether I'm over-reacting as I'm kind of reeling from the shock of it all still and it's not like it's agony, or massive swellings or bits falling off me (I've had abscesses - I've taken them straight down there).

But I'm obviously leaning towards going and seeing them now ...
posted by LyzzyBee at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2011

I used to manage a dental office. Please go ASAP, if only for peace of mind. But really, because if there is a problem, swift attention to the matter can give you more options than waiting for evidence that the tooth has died.

That is to say, if there is a problem, a radiograph is more likely to find it sooner. If there is no problem, you'll be assured of that.

Call today, leave a voicemail. If there is an "emergency" number, call that too. Your dentist will probably be happy to talk to you and decide together if you need to be seen today or first thing in the morning, or tomorrow afternoon. Likely it can wait till tomorrow morning, but if you wait until then to call, you'll be behind all the people who called all weekend. Call now.
posted by bilabial at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adding, you are not over-reacting. Your worry is reasonable! Now, deep breaths. It's getting later where you are. Have a cup of tea and a hot bath.

But first, leave that voicemail. (And my apologies for assuming you were here in the states, where today is a holiday.)
posted by bilabial at 10:50 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it's the same situation as your, but years ago I had a front tooth suddenly breaking off. When I went to the dentist, he found that there was a huge abscess around the root that slowly killed the root and the tooth. His theory was that the tooth was "injured" somehow, at some point.

i don't have any memories of events similar to yours, and I am not sure what kind of injury he was talking about (I was 18 when it happened, and I was scared to death), but if I were you, I would go see a dentist just to be sure. Because if it dies due to negligence, it'll cost a lot more to fix.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 10:52 AM on September 5, 2011

Better safe than sorry when it comes to your teeth, in my book. My completely uneducated guess is that it's probably fine, but peace of mind would be worth a few bucks for me.
posted by ashirys at 10:58 AM on September 5, 2011

I ran at top speed down the stairs into a recently installed and relatively invisible glass wall. Lip swollen significantly and the tooth in front was sore for a few weeks and I was worried about the same thing. No long term damage. Give it some time and if its still hurting after a few weeks then have a dentist look at it.
posted by infini at 11:11 AM on September 5, 2011

Have a cup of tea and a hot bath.

I once had a dentist check if my tooth was alive by seeing if it was sensitive to heat and cold. If your tooth is, it's a good sign. (But you should STILL go to the dentist.)
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:11 AM on September 5, 2011

I once had a dentist check if my tooth was alive by seeing if it was sensitive to heat and cold. If your tooth is, it's a good sign. (But you should STILL go to the dentist.)

Excessive sensitivity in a tooth to heat and cold is a diagnostic sign that you have damaged the nerve. It's a good thing you're planning to see a dentist about this.

This isn't what you asked to hear, but I will tell you from the other side: having the nerve die isn't the end of the world. Having the tooth break isn't the end of the world. Here in the US, these things are an expensive pain-in-the-neck, but teeth can be replaced in otherwise healthy patients, and, while it's expensive, for me it's played out over 16 years (and, I mean, for most of the time it was fine, it's not been sixteen years of issues.) Right now, I'm wearing a partial denture while various things heal (oh such a long story), and I won't claim it's a party and a half, but really, it's okay.

So, I really hope your tooth is healthy. But even if it's not, you don't have to panic. One way or another, in the end, it will probably be okay.
posted by endless_forms at 11:35 AM on September 5, 2011

After you call the dentist, comfort yourself with this story: I bashed my face on the steering wheel in a car accident, hitting exactly the same area you describe. The steering wheel broke in half, and I bled extravagantly from gum injuries, and also cracked my jawbone. That tooth took one hell of a wallop, but it was fine. Still is, forty years later. You're not overreacting, though; a tooth can die from that sort of impact. So go, but don't waste too much worry on it.
posted by Corvid at 12:52 PM on September 5, 2011

Thanks everyone! I'm working from home tomorrow so I'll pop down to the dentist and see what they say. I appreciate the advice and the reassurance that I'm not being silly, and will let you all know what happened (I know I always want to know with the ones I answer!).
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:33 PM on September 5, 2011

Now, here's an interesting one ... so I got hurt in someone's business premises, and presumably I will end up with an xray and a bill tomorrow at the dentist's (not a big one, but still money I wouldn't have been spending if the accident hadn't happened), but I love the cafe and it's all ethical and nice and they were very concerned, helped me, offered me a lift home and all that ...

On a not-unrelated note, I do like that the "related questions" at the bottom of this page offers me a question on kitty teeth!
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:44 PM on September 5, 2011

You have an NHS dentist? There are 3 possible charges from this, either about £20, £50 or £200. I wouldn't bother with asking the cafe for money unless it was going to cost the £200, and even then it might not be worth it.
posted by plonkee at 1:54 PM on September 5, 2011

ummm... I happen to be a specialist is smashing my teeth into things through my face. I have partially shattered two teeth and broken through the skin several times. Haven't lost a tooth yet. This doesn't sound near as traumatic as things I have done: think large metal objects.
posted by at 2:26 PM on September 5, 2011

I got a concussion when I fell off a bike when I was about 10 and face planted into the sidewalk. When I was 17, the dentist discovered by x-ray that my tooth was abscessed. I had a root canal, but did not got a crown. So these things can take time to show up. Even so, at no point was I in pain. I still have the same tooth today, in my early 30's.
posted by Monday at 2:32 PM on September 5, 2011

so I got hurt in someone's business premises, and presumably I will end up with an xray and a bill tomorrow at the dentist's (not a big one, but still money I wouldn't have been spending if the accident hadn't happened), but I love the cafe and it's all ethical and nice and they were very concerned, helped me, offered me a lift home and all that

IANAL, nor do I live in the UK

From what I know in regards to US law, the business would have to pay the bill if it was they were at fault, even the slightest. If their as ethical and nice as you say, I'm sure they'll have no problem at least helping you out.

With that said, I have a question. At any time, did they (the cafe) collect any of your information for insurance purposes? I ask this because whenever a customer gets hurt at my workplace, we collect information and have the company's insurers call them.
posted by HermanoBluth at 2:48 PM on September 5, 2011

I bashed my face on some bleachers chasing a volleyball in middle school, and two of my front teeth snapped in half -- i.e. the majority of the bottom of each broke off, so I had little nubs of teeth left. The roots didn't die at all, though! I got caps/crowns or whatever they're called put on both of them, and no one ever even knows they're fake. That was over ten years ago, and today fake teeth are even more realistic-looking.

By the way, I did have to get one of my back teeth entirely removed due to a horrible cavity that never got treated (no health/dental insurance as a lower-middle class child in the US; my aunt and uncle paid for my fake teeth above). I will have to get an implant put in soon-ish, and it will be relatively expensive, BUT in case you're freaking out thinking the teeth will die and you're just going to look bad or something, know that dental implants are also very awesome nowadays. So you'll have options even if your roots die, they just might be expensive. (Trust me, I know how prohibitive even that can be, so I don't mean to make light of it; just don't catastrophize in your mind until you know more, despite how easy it can be to worry.) If you want to know what happens if you can't get an implant immediately, the only concern is erosion to the jaw bone; basically when you chew, your teeth stimulate the jaw bone and keep it strong and healthy, and if your teeth aren't there, that doesn't happen. But you can seriously wait a year or more without any huge problems if that's financially necessary; it's more a big deal when you're older and missing multiple teeth. I've waited over three years to get my implant just because of financial reasons, but it's a single tooth with good healthy teeth on the sides of the gap, and the bone isn't eroded.

I should note that I may also sound flip about this because the dentist doesn't freak me out at all; I kind of like going to the dentist, even. I've had a root canal, even, and it was great, and I'm not worried about getting my wisdom teeth out. The pain killers they use nowadays are pretty good; I've found that a lot of people who are afraid of the dentist are either older and have legit terrible experiences under their belt from before the technology and procedures evolved, or else are freaked out because they know it's something people get freaked out about OR just freak out about medical stuff in general because it's weird to think about. The first dental experience I ever had was getting my bashed-out teeth replaced, and neither the teeth getting bashed out or the procedure hurt, so everything after that just seemed like no big deal to me.

Also, I should note that if any big procedures become necessary, it's very possible that the pain from the teeth themselves will be so bad that you'll welcome any procedure; that was the case with my root canal. That may sound counterintuitive, like, hey, you might be in for a world of pain! but if you think about it, it's more reassuring, I think; hopefully you won't be as dumb as me and wait until you're crying and incoherent before you finally go to the dentist, and that was just laziness on my part because the pain was bearable before then. So in case you have any fear of the dentist, you could try borrowing my perspective that the dentist is where you go to make pain go away and fix what's wrong. ;-)

So, I'm glad to hear you're going to go. Quite possibly you won't have anything to worry about anyway, but it's important to go check earlier rather than later! And even if your roots are dead and the teeth are doomed, you'll have options.
posted by Nattie at 6:11 PM on September 5, 2011

Thanks overnight commenters!

Re the cafe: they took all my info in their accident book which was one of the official printed forms ones, so I think that's all covered. And you're right, I won't bother them unless it's way expensive.

Nattie - wow - thanks for all the info. I am not scared of the dentist in the slightest and I've had one extraction (back molar, didn't bother about the implant, gap partly closed when my wisdoms came through) and a root canal, I was just worried about my appearance as it's one at the front. But yes, all will be fine I'm sure.

Just doing some work while I wait for the dentist's office to open so I can call them.
posted by LyzzyBee at 11:04 PM on September 5, 2011

Right, I have an appointment for 15:10 today so will know what's up then. Thanks for all the support and care! Will update later!
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:34 AM on September 6, 2011

OK: Update. That dentist *is* good, but they are always running so late!

Good news is that there is no fracture, crack, break or movement. It looks like the soft tissue of the lip and gum absorbed most of the impact (and are quite traumatised).

I do have to watch out for the nerve dying, although the bottom tooth is the sorest one and that wasn't bashed except by the top one, so that is better than it could be. So if one discolours, I have to go back. But he said that was unlikely. We agreed I would wait about 4 mo for my next routine checkup so they could check if any hairline cracking had developed. Really good service anyway, v nice chap.

I then bravely popped in the cafe and spoke to the owner - she was horrified and very kind about it. Even if their personal thingy insurance doesn't cover it, she will pay the £17 herself. She took a copy of the receipt as I need one as I can use it to claim free treatment / check up / xray on the same problem for the next 2 mo if needed.

So hooray for the NHS by the way - and thanks all for reassuring me I was right to go in - the dentist said it was completely right for me to have done so too as he really couldn't tell what was up (or not) without the xray.
posted by LyzzyBee at 8:29 AM on September 6, 2011

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