Dental emergencies happen every day but because most people are less clear about what it means to have a dental emergency, they choose to ignore. It’s important that you know what qualifies as a dental emergency so that you can take the necessary precautions and emergency care. To know the difference between a standard dental issue that can wait and a dental emergency that threatens your health could help you save your tooth. Generally, a dental emergency refers to any dental issue that needs immediate medical help to alleviate severe pain or save a tooth. This also includes severe, life-threatening infections. Once you identify a dental emergency, you’ll need to see a competent dentist such as Dr. Joseph Kabaklian, and describe what happened. Here are some common dental emergencies and ways to handle them.
If you’re experiencing a severe toothache, the immediate course of action is to thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water, and remove particles of food lodged in between the teeth through flossing. If you notice that the mouth is swollen, apply ice wrapped in a towel, or a cold compress on the outer side of your cheek or mouth. Avoid putting painkillers such as aspirin on the gums near the tooth as it may burn the surrounding gum tissues. Visit your dentist as soon as you can.
Broken or Chipped Tooth
If your tooth is chipped or broken, try to find the broken pieces and save them. Rinse the mouth and the broken pieces with warm water and if there’s bleeding in the area, apply a gauze for a few minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply ice wrapped in a towel or a cold compress to the outer area of your cheek, mouth or lip, close to the chipped or broken tooth. This will help you relieve pain and keep the swelling down. See your dentist as soon as you can.
If your tooth has been knocked out, retrieve it and rinse off the root with water. You can do this by holding it by the crown. Don’t attempt to scrub it or remove any tissue fragments attached to it. Try to place the tooth back into position if possible. Ensure it’s facing the right direction, but don’t force it into the socket. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a cup filled with milk. If milk is not available, use water that contains a pinch of salt, or any product containing cell growth medium, for instance, Save-a-Tooth. See a dentist as soon as you can. Teeth that have been knocked out have the best chances of being saved if they can be seen by a dentist and restored back into the socket within an hour of being knocked out.
Partially Dislodged or Extruded Teeth
With this issue, apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a towel to the area outside the cheek or lip to relieve pain. Hold it there until you see your dentist, which should be right away. If the pain is severe, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as Advil or Tylenol.
Object Caught Between Your Teeth
Very gently and carefully, try using dental floss to remove the object. If this doesn’t help, see a dentist right away. Never use a sharp instrument such as a pin or toothpick to poke at the object as these instruments can scratch or cut your gums.