You may already see your dentist for regular checkups, but what if something happens to your teeth in between visits?
A dental emergency involves an injury to the mouth or face that affects your teeth.
So what should you do if you have a dental emergency? Here are 7 tips to keep in mind.
#1: Seek Emergency Dental Care ASAP
Time is of the essence when it comes to a dental injury.
It is best to seek emergency dental help within 30 minutes if possible.
The sooner your dentist can diagnose and treat the problem, the greater your chances of keeping your teeth. The longer you wait, the greater your risk of permanent tooth loss.
#2: Have a Dental First Aid Kit
It’s always good to be prepared. Most people already have first aid supplies on hand in case of other types of injury.
Here are some things that will help you care for injured teeth while you’re waiting for emergency dental treatment:
- Your dentist’s phone number
- Small container with lid
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, not aspirin. Aspirin is an anticoagulant and may cause excessive bleeding near the injury site.
#3: Knocked-Out Tooth
It can be very frightening and painful if a tooth gets knocked out. Believe it or not, with quick and proper emergency dental services, it may be possible to permanently restore the tooth.
- Try gently placing the tooth back into the socket. Returning the tooth to its socket within 1 hour of injury gives you the best chance of successful restoration.
- Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root.
- Remove any large debris before returning the tooth to its socket.
- If you cannot return it to the socket, the tooth may be placed in between your cheek and gums.
- Keep the tooth moist if you are unable to place it back in the socket before seeing a dentist.
- You may also place the tooth in a small container of milk while waiting to see the dentist.
#4: Fractured or Loosened Tooth
Even if your teeth haven’t been knocked out, they may still be loosened or fractured as a result of injury.
Here’s what to do if you have broken or chipped teeth:
- Rinse with warm water.
- Apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth, over the injury site, to control swelling.
- Apply gauze if you are bleeding.
- If the tooth is loosened or knocked out of position, gently reposition it if possible. Apply light pressure to keep it in place while waiting to see the dentist.
#5: Injury to Oral Tissue
In addition to your teeth, you may also suffer injuries to your gums, tongue, cheeks, or lips.
- Go to the emergency room if injuries are severe.
- Gently clean the wounds with warm water.
- Apply a cold compress to help with pain and swelling.
- If you are bleeding apply light pressure with gauze.
If you’ve been experiencing a toothache and don’t know what’s causing the pain, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The pain may be caused by an abscess, which is an infection around the root of the tooth or between your teeth and gums. An abscess can result in damage to your teeth and gums if not treated quickly enough.
- Rinse the affected area with mild salt water.
- Use dental floss to gently remove food or other debris from between teeth.
- Apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth if the area is swollen.
- Don’t use aspirin because it may cause excessive bleeding.
- Don’t apply other painkillers directly to the gum because it may burn.
#7: Reduce Your Risk of Dental Injury
While emergency dental care is sometimes necessary, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of dental injury:
- Wear a custom athletic mouth guard when participating in sports.
- Avoid chewing ice, popcorn, hard candy, or other things that can crack a tooth
- Don’t use your teeth to cut things or open packages
If you’ve had an injury to your teeth, or you’ve got a toothache and don’t know why, please contact Excel Dental right away.
We always have a dentist on call — even after hours and on weekends — and will make every effort to treat you as quickly as possible.
Remember, in a dental emergency, the sooner you get treatment, the better your long term outcome is likely to be.