What to Do and 6 Tips When You Have a Dental Emergency
While an injury to your gums or teeth may not be life-threatening, dental emergencies should never be ignored. Ignoring a problem like a chipped tooth or a lost crown can lead to discomfort, pain, permanent damage, or the need for more extensive and costly treatment down the road.
When you’re faced with a dental emergency, you can take the steps below until you’re able to see your dentist.
When a permanent tooth has been knocked out, it’s important to keep the tooth moist. If the tooth is allowed to dry out, it can’t be saved. Handle the tooth with care; do not scrub the tooth, wrap it in tissue, or touch it anywhere but the crown to minimize damage. After retrieving and rinsing the tooth under running water, you can try to place it back in the gums. Don’t try to force it in place, however. If the tooth can’t be reinserted in the gums, you can store it in a container of milk or, if possible, a special tooth-preserving liquid like Save-a-Tooth.
The sooner you see your dentist, the greater the chances that the tooth can be saved. Your dentist may be able to restore the tooth back to the socket if you’re treated within one hour.
Broken or Chipped Tooth
If your tooth has chipped or broken, do your best to save as many pieces as possible. Rinse your mouth with warm water and rinse off any broken pieces. Use a cold compress to reduce swelling and contact your dentist right away.
If you have pain, it’s a sign that the tooth broke through the enamel into the dentin. The dentin is the sensitive part of the tooth that contains nerve endings. The deepest part of the tooth, the pulp, may bleed if exposed. You can apply gauze to stop the bleeding. Pain may also indicate your tooth has fractured, potentially below the gum line.
Object Between Teeth
Under no circumstances should you use a toothpick or any sharp object in an attempt to dislodge an object stuck between your teeth. Instead, use dental floss to gently try to dislodge the object. If this does not work, contact your dentist right away.
Contact your dentist right away if your crown falls off. Keep the crown so it can be reattached. You may be able to slide the crown back onto your tooth and use an over-the-counter dental cement or adhesive to keep it in place temporarily until your dentist can see you.
An abscess is a painful infection in the space between the gums and teeth or around the root of the tooth. An abscess is a very serious condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible before it causes damage to your teeth and gums. In serious cases, it’s possible for the infection to spread and even become life-threatening.
An abscess usually presents as a swollen bump on the gums that’s painful to the touch. You can reduce the pain and attempt to draw pus to the surface by rinsing your mouth with salt water every few hours until your doctor can see you.
While you’re waiting to be seen by your dentist, you can try to reduce the pain on your own. Start by rinsing your mouth with warm water then using dental floss to remove any food that may be lodged between your teeth and causing the pain. Never put a painkiller near the tooth as it may damage your gums. Sucking on a cough drop may help as well because most contain an anesthetic like menthol that can relieve minor discomfort.