What do I do in a dental emergency?
Dental emergencies happen at the most unexpected time. Knowing what you need to do when one occurs can make the difference between keeping and losing your tooth.
A Few Common Dental Emergencies and How to Handle Them
It’s good to have your dentist in your contacts in case a dental emergency occurs. Pain from a toothache or broken teeth can happen at any time bringing even the most hesitant people to the dentist for treatment.
Knocked out tooth
Playing sports, riding bikes, car accidents, work-related accidents, even rough housing in and around your home, can lead to oral injuries resulting in a dental emergency.
If one or more teeth have been knocked out, you should see your dentist immediately. You can take the following steps for saving and preserving the teeth.
When a tooth gets knocked out, pick it up by the crown, gently rinse with water, and try to place it back into the tooths socket where the tooth came out in your mouth with gauze. If this isn’t possible, place it in a glass of milk and call your dentist. For chipped and broken teeth, rinse and save the pieces, if possible
There are many painful things and a toothache is one of the you will endure when you get one. It can be caused by tooth decay, infection, tooth eruption, an abnormal bite, or trauma to the tooth. Schedule an appointment with your dentist and rinse with warm salt water, take an ibuprofen or acetaminophen, apply an over-the-counter antiseptic and a cold compress to the outside cheek to relieve pain or swelling.
Crown or filling falling out
Fillings and crowns sometimes loosen and fall out. This is rarely an emergency, but it can be painful because the exposed tooth tissue is often sensitive to pressure, air or hot and cold temperatures. In some cases, a filling or crown may come loose because decay has developed underneath it.
If your crown falls out, wipe the crown clean, wrap it in a clean cloth and schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Chipped or fractured tooth
If you break or chip a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water right away to clean it. Apply pressure to stop any bleeding, and place a cold compress on the area to reduce swelling. Save any pieces of your broken tooth. If you notice a lump of dental pulp or reddish flesh sticking out or if there’s a broken line going up your tooth, get in to see your dentist right away.
A concussed tooth requires that the tooth be stabilized with composite for 1 week. Your pulp should be tested for vitality when the splint is removed and again 3 months later. Pulp may recover from an injury, the 1-week pulp test is used as a baseline for comparison with the 3-month test and should not be used to determine treatment.
A non responsive pulp test at 3 months indicates that the pulp has become necrotic (death in cells in living tissue), and root canal therapy procedure should be done as soon as possible. A positive test at 3 months indicates that root canal treatment will probably never be necessary. The dentist should continue to observe the tooth each time the patient comes to the office for any other procedures.
How to avoid dental emergencies
- There are things you can do to prevent certain injuries to your teeth. These prevention measures are:
- Don’t chew ice, hard candy or popcorn kernels. These can crack your teeth.
- Wear a mouthguard when you participate in recreational or sports activities.
- Don’t use your teeth to rip something open — use scissors.
- Brush and floss your teeth and gums regularly.
- Schedule a dental visit twice a year for a thorough oral exam and a cleaning.
- Don’t wait until you have a problem with your teeth or mouth to see a dentist.