March 12, 2019
It often happens suddenly. In a moment, life can go from smooth sailing to an urgent dental emergency. Whether it’s you or a loved one, you can feel overwhelmed and scared. In such stressful situations, it can be hard to know what to do and how to respond to get the best results. Well, here are five tips from your dentist for handling a dental emergency to increase your odds of treatment success.
What is a dental emergency?
There are many things that can go wrong with your mouth, but a dental emergency is a situation that usually involves pain or bleeding and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The following list names some examples of dental emergencies:
- Knocked-out tooth.
- Partial dislodged tooth.
- Cracked or broken tooth.
- Object stuck between teeth.
- Severe toothache.
- Lost dental work.
- Jaw injury.
- Soft tissue injury.
What should I do in a dental emergency?
Below are five things you should do in a dental emergency.
Don’t Panic and Act Quickly
Dental emergencies often take you off guard, but you need to assess the situation quickly so you know what needs to be done. For many dental emergencies, time is critical for successful treatment, so don’t waste any of it by panicking.
Call Your Dentist
In many dental emergencies, contacting your dentist should be the first thing you do. They can provide additional care instructions and accommodate you in their next available appointment—many times on the same day. In the case of a knocked-out or partially dislodged tooth, you should go in immediately, preferably within an hour, to have the tooth repositioned into place and a splint applied.
No matter the situation, be sure you are careful around the affected area. For example, in the case of a knocked-out tooth, avoid touching the root. Put the tooth back into its socket if you can; otherwise, store it in milk or water to keep it moist. An object between your teeth is another situation that you need handle with care. Using floss, try to get the stuck object out from between the teeth. Do not use sharp objects because they can damage the gum tissue or scratch the enamel. If floss doesn’t work, contact your dentist.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
In a dental emergency, it’s important to do your best to keep the affected area as clean as possible. If your tooth or dental work has cracked or broken or if you have a severe toothache, rinse your mouth with warm water to help keep it clean.
Ease Any Discomfort
Some, if not most, dental emergencies involve some pain and discomfort. If you have to wait for your dental appointment to fix the issue, you don’t have to just sit there and suffer. You can use over-the-counter medication to manage the pain, but avoid applying topical medication to the affected area. Use cold compresses in 20-minute intervals to keep any swelling under control.
Although you likely won’t know when, where, or how a dental emergency may strike, you can be prepared for it when one does. By following these tips, you’ll be more ready to act quickly and wisely, hopefully leading to successful treatment and recovery. Plan how you will respond to a dental emergency now so that you can think clearly in the moment and get the necessary treatment to restore you to full oral health.
About the Author
Dr. Alex Martin has several hundreds of hours of postgraduate continuing education so that he can bring the best treatment that dentistry has to offer to his patients. He and the staff in his practice in Scottsdale do everything they can to accommodate dental emergency patients on the same day and even provides his personal number on the office’s answering machine for dire after-hours emergencies. To make an appointment with him, call (480) 860-1993 or click here.
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