What to Do When You Have a Dental Emergency
An injury to the teeth or gums can sometimes be a serious condition which should be addressed quickly. Ignoring known dental emergencies or other complications could cause you permanent dental damage, lots of hours in dental chairs, and of course, lots of money spent on expensive treatments. Because dental disasters always seem to strike at the most inappropriate time, having knowledge of how to handle them ahead of time can be helpful. Beyond calling a dentists immediately, let us briefly look at what else you can do when faced with different types of dental emergencies.
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(Disclaimer- We are not a licensed medical site. Therefore, the information on this page is general knowledge we have picked up through the dental community.)
This is typically when a tooth cavity is so close to the nerve it causes it to become irritated. In most cases the tooth either needs a dental crown or a root canal. The best thing to do if it’s causing you egregious pain is to immediately take a pain reliever such as Advil, then call your dentist.
At times, placing an icepack on the area of your sore tooth may help reduce pain. Sometimes, rinsing your mouth thoroughly with some warm water also helps. If there is any lodged food particles on the tooth, floss it gently. Avoid putting any pain killers or aspirin directly on the gums of the affected tooth, as it may cause a burn on the gums.
Knocked out teeth
When you knock out a tooth, save it. If possible, try fixing the tooth back in its socket. Rinse off any dirt at the root of the tooth, then hold it carefully on the crown and put it back in. Do not force it back. If it’s not possible to fix, dip the tooth in a container of milk or in a cup of water container containing a pinch of salt. You can also dip it in a cell growth medium like save-a-tooth solution.
Speed is what matters when you’ve lost an adult tooth and you are thinking of saving it. If you spend more than two hours with the tooth and away from a dentist, you are less likely to save the tooth. If you can see a dentist within an hour of losing the tooth, then it can likely be fitted back.
Lost fillings and Lost crowns
Regular visits to your dentist may help reduce incidents of lost filings. If you’ve lost some of your fillings and developed sensitivity, you can place an already chewed sugarless gum on the affected tooth.
When a crown has fallen out and there is some pain, take a cotton swab and some clove oil and apply it on the sensitive area if you can’t get to the dentist right away. You can also coat the inner surface of the tooth with the tooth paste or a denture adhesive and replace the crown on its place.
If you break a tooth, be sure rinse your mouth with warm water to rinse out some finer pieces of the broken tooth. You should always save the broken pieces of the tooth because they may be helpful to your dentist. If you’re bleeding, hold a piece of gauze on the area until the bleeding stops. To keep the swelling down, hold a cold compress on the cheek, mouth or outside lip area near the chipped tooth.
If you have a small fracture on the tooth, then your dentist could easily repair it using filing material. In case of a large tooth fracture, filling material alone may not be enough. Your dentist will determine whether you need a crown or a root canal instead.
If a wire of your brace sticks out or even breaks, you can use a soft object to return it to its original position. If that’s difficult, you can cover the end with either some orthodontic wax, a piece of gauze or a cotton ball before you rush to your orthodontist. Never attempt to cut the wire because that may lead to swallowing the pieces or inhaling the broken pieces to your lungs.
Abscesses and soft tissue injuries
Abscesses are serious oral conditions that affect the root of the tooth and gums. If left untreated, they could possibly spread to other parts of the body. Both abscesses and soft tissue injuries can be treated by rinsing your mouth several times with salt water and seeing your dentist as soon as possible.
Contact an Emergency Dentist
Most of the above listed tips are ideas meant to help you identify temporary solutions for alleviating pain and preventing further damage to your dental health. We therefore advise you to first try and consult an emergency dentist or licensed dental professional during any dental emergency, even if you don’t have insurance, for better treatment and a more permanent solution.
Medically Fact-Checked & Written by Our Dental Editorial Team
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