Tips for Taking Care of Teeth During a Dental Emergency
Dental problems, especially pain, can happen at any time. In the event of a sudden dental emergency, you should see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further pain, discomfort, and complications. If you’re experiencing any of the following problems, contact your emergency dentist immediately. If you’re unsure what to do while you wait, though, here are a few tips to help you address your dental emergencies if you can’t immediately make it to the dentist.
Broken or Cracked Teeth
Thankfully, broken and cracked teeth don’t usually hurt, so if this happens, you probably won’t be in agony. However, you might experience some tooth sensitivity that will eventually wear off. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to fix your tooth, and send them a photo if possible so they can treat you at the initial visit. Depending on the severity of the damage, you made need one of the following dental treatments:
- If you have a small crack in your tooth, you will need a filling;
- If a large piece of your tooth has broken off, you will need a crown; or,
- If an existing crown has broken or fallen off, you will need a repair or a replacement crown.
If you’ve had a tooth knocked out, you may be able to have it and re-implanted if you think quickly. Here’s what you need to do if you’ve had a tooth knocked out:
- Pick it up by the crown (the top that you chew with), NOT the root (the pointy end)—the slightest damage to the root may prevent the re-implant from working;
- Look at your teeth in the mirror to see which way the tooth opposite to the one missing is facing so you will know which way to put your tooth in—it should be almost identical to the opposite tooth in your mouth;
- Try placing the tooth back in the socket; and,
- Visit your dentist immediately.
It’s extremely important to get to the dentist within the hour for the best chance at saving the tooth. Sometimes, though, the tooth simply won’t take, despite your dentist’s efforts and your quick thinking. If that’s the case, you’ll need a dental implant to replace the tooth.
Facial swelling can be a sign of dental infection, which requires immediate treatment. Your tooth, gums, or the underlying bone could be infected, and these infections worsen without treatment. Call your dentist immediately, and:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated;
- Stay upright at all times—even when sleeping; and,
- Get immediate treatment from your dentist—mouth infections can be fatal if left untreated.
If you notice blood on your gums when you floss, you probably have gingivitis or gum disease, which you should have treated by your dentist as soon as possible.
Have you had a recent extraction? Is bleeding persisting? Call your dentist or oral surgeon right away and keep your head upright at all times—even when sleeping.
If you notice blood in your saliva, visit your emergency dentist immediately. Saliva in the blood is a sign of advanced stages of a disease.
A gum abscess is a pimple-like growth on your gum that is often very painful. It is a sign of a tooth or gum infection that will need antibiotics, a root canal, or an extraction, and needs immediate attention. To avoid further complications:
- Do NOT try to pop or drain it;
- Keep brushing and flossing as usual; and
- Try to see your dentist within the same day.
A tooth abscess (AKA pulpal abscess) means your tooth tissue is infected and dead, or dying, and requires a root canal. Since these abscesses are not normally visible, they require a dental exam and x-ray to diagnose. Symptoms often include hot and cold tooth sensitivity; severe pain when chewing; pain from moving; or spontaneous pain. To avoid further agonizing pain, facial swelling, the spread of infection, and further complications, see your emergency dentist right away.
Chewing or Biting Pain
Pain from chewing and biting could be due to:
- Muscle pain from grinding your teeth;
- Cracked tooth syndrome; or,
- A pulpal abscess.
See an emergency dentist to determine the cause of the pain and to get proper treatment. If you treat cracked tooth syndrome right away with a dental crown, you can prevent the need for a root canal or an extraction. Avoid chewing with this tooth in the meantime to prevent further cracking.
Accidents and Injuries
If you’ve injured your mouth and lost teeth from a fall or an accident, see your emergency dentist immediately. If you are in the ER, schedule an emergency dentist visit for right after. The sooner you see your dentist, the better the outcome for keeping your teeth. Also, ask your dentist if your jaw is fractured, and ice it for three days while taking an anti-inflammatory.
In the event of a dental emergency, don’t wait to see a dentist. They can fix your teeth, prevent further complications, and help to relieve pain sooner.