What Should YOU Do in a Dental Emergency?
Dental emergencies can be extremely painful and even worse, frightening. Often people are unsure whether or not it actually IS an emergency. Rule of thumb in this scenario is: if it hurts, it’s an emergency. Even small injuries can have devastating effects on the tissue inside the teeth. The faster you respond to dental problems, the better the odds are that the injured or damaged teeth can be saved. Any obvious damage, such as chips or fractures are among those that need immediate attention to avoid future problems.
This rule applies to a lost filling or crown as well. Losing a crown or filling means that your tooth has lost its support and could easily break or crumble, which could lead to more extensive and expensive treatments.
Here are some of the most common questions that patients ask regarding dental emergencies:
Tooth Injury: What Should I Do?
Any time you experience trauma within the mouth you should contact us immediately. Through examination and x-rays we will be able to determine if treatment is required.
If you are in pain, it may be wise to take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever, such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol. If you have broken your tooth it is best to keep the broken piece and bring it with you to your appointment. Avoid using the damaged tooth, don’t chew anything and stay away from extreme cold or hot beverages.
Chipped, Cracked, or Broken Teeth
Chipped teeth can be small enough that they don’t require repair. Unless there is pain involved it is up to you if you would like to have it cosmetically repaired. However, if the chipped tooth is part of an artificial tooth, it should be replaced. As mentioned above, cracked and broken teeth should be repaired right away to avoid further damage.
Teeth Knocked Out
In order to improve the changes of the tooth being saved, we suggest:
●If the tooth is dirty, rinse it off with milk or contact lens solution. Handle to tooth carefully and avoid touching the root of the tooth
●The tooth needs to stay moist, so if possible keep the tooth in a glass of milk. If no milk is available, place the tooth between your cheek and gums, or last resort would be a glass of water
●Most importantly, get in to see us as soon as possible
Severe Pain (Non Trauma Related)
Often people experience dental pain and don’t know why, such as food or beverage that has come in contact with a decayed area of the tooth. Exposed nerves can cause shooting pain when food comes in contact with it. Brushing and flossing can help keep food from lodging between your teeth and causing discomfort and pain. If swelling inside or outside the mouth occurs, contact our office immediately.
Lip or Gum Injuries
This is a common injury. Often caused during sports, but can be prevented by the use of a mouth guard. The flesh of the lips is soft and in an exposed and vulnerable place, which can be easily damaged by being bumped or elbowed. Cuts inside the mouth usually tend to bleed quite a bit due to the rich supply of blood within that area.
If you are experiencing a swollen or bruised lip, often a cold compress can help with the healing process, and no medical attention is needed. However, you should seek medical care if:
●Uncontrollable bleeding occurs
●The trauma is a deep cut and may require stitches
●The cut crosses the border between the lip and facial skin
●The lip is punctured
●The cut has become infected
●Swelling within the mouth, neck, or cheeks
Burn Within the Mouth
This is usually caused by our favorite, yet secret mouth enemies, food and beverage. We love the cheese on our pizza to be delicious and super-melty, and our coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to be piping hot. But our mouths beg to differ. Burns caused from these foods is what is known as “pizza palate,” because they are most commonly caused by pizza.
They are generally minor (although they ruin the taste of food for a few days) and heal quickly. Rinse with warm-salt water after meals to keep the area clean.
Knowing whether your dental injury or trauma is an emergency is important. If you feel like the damage goes beyond dental, such as fractures of the jaw or dislocation, serious soft tissue injuries, or an abscesses with severe swelling, you should seek medical attention from a hospital. For all the things mentioned above, if you experience any of them, contact our office a call immediately. Don’t wait for the damage to become more extensive. Remember, if there is pain, it’s an emergency.