We all have been taught what to do in some medical emergencies. After all, we know that we’re supposed to stop, drop, and roll for fire or perform the emergency steps when someone is choking. But have you thought what you are supposed to do for a dental emergency?
Generally, there are two options for dental emergencies: Go to a dentist near you immediately or care for the injury until you’re able to see your dentist. To help you decide what is best in different dental emergencies, here’s what you need to know:
Non-Emergency Conditions -
Even if these don’t require emergency dental care, it’s still important to see our dentist as soon as possible if you have one or more of the following problems.
Lost filling, bridge, or crown
Broken or chipped tooth (unless there is severe pain)
Objects caught between teeth
Broken braces or wires
Urgent Dental Care Emergencies -
Some dental problems can be treated at home until your dentist can see you, whereas others may require urgent attention. Here are some examples of dental emergencies.
A permanent tooth that has been partially or fully knocked-out
Tooth infection that leads to fever, severe pain, and swelling
You must know the difference between non-emergency dental issues and problems that require urgent care. Visit your dentist immediately if you experience any of those problems.
So if you experience a dental emergency at night or over the weekend when dental clinics are closed, you must know how to temporarily deal with the issues.
Toothaches - Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. If you have food lodgement between your teeth causing pain, remove it with dental floss. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. You can also take an over-the-counter painkiller, but don’t put it against the gums near the aching tooth— it may burn the gum tissue.
Broken or chipped tooth - If you’re able, save any pieces of the tooth. Wash the broken pieces, if any, and rinse your mouth with warm water. Apply gauze to the bleeding area until the bleeding stops or for about 10 minutes. If the broken tooth has caused swelling, press a cold compress against your cheek, mouth, or lip near the broken tooth area to relieve pain and bring the swelling down.
Partially dislodged tooth - An extruded tooth will likely need immediate attention to save the tooth. Leave the tooth in its socket, even if it feels like it’s about to come out. Until you’re able to see your dentist, you can take over-the-counter painkillers and apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth.
Knocked-Out Tooth - If you’re able to retrieve the tooth, rinse off the tooth with water if it’s dirty. Be sure to hold it by the crown and not the roots. Don’t remove any tissue fragment. Try to put the tooth back in its socket if possible, making sure that it’s facing the right way. Please don’t force it in. If you’re unable to reinsert the tooth, put it in a small container of milk or a cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt. The highest chance of saving your tooth is seeing your dentist within 1 hour of it being knocked out, so you must seek dental care immediately.
Lost Crown or Filling - If you’re experiencing pain, you can apply clove oil or powder to the sensitive area with a cotton swab. If you can, try to place the crown back over the tooth. If you have a lost dental filling, you can use a piece of sugarless gum to hold it in place temporarily.
Broken braces or wires - Do not cut the wire yourself. Try using the eraser end of the pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position to prevent it from poking other parts of your mouth. If you’re unable to reposition the wire, you can use a small cotton ball or a gauze to cover the end of the wire until you see your dentist.
Tooth Abscess - An abscessed tooth is an infection at the root of a tooth, usually caused by severe tooth decay. If left untreated, they can lead to damaged tissue and teeth, with the infection spreading to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. You must see your dentist as soon as possible if you think you may have an abscessed tooth. In the meantime, rinse your mouth several times a day with a mild saltwater solution to ease the pain.