There are many reasons why it is important to establish a relationship with a regular dentist, one very important reason being that you will have someone to call who can provide you care in the case of a dental emergency. Most dentists provide 24-hour on call help for their patients of record. Obviously, dental emergencies are not something that most people plan for, but in most cases, when you have an active relationship with a dentist, he or she will be available if a problem should arise.
Planning Ahead: What to do in Case of a Dental Emergency
What if I bite my lip or tongue so hard that it begins to bleed?
If you bite down on your lip of tongue so hard that you cause bleeding, the first thing you should do is clean the area gently with clean gauze or a clean cloth. Next, apply pressure to the wounded area firmly in an effort to stop the bleeding. Once the bleeding is controlled, apply a cool compress and call your dentist to tell them about your injury. Depending upon the severity of the wound, they may ask you to meet them at the office to make sure that the wound is clean and does not require any stitches.
What should I do if my crown falls off or my bridgework falls out?
Usually when a fixed crown or bridge comes off, there is some underlying factor that has caused this to happen. Perhaps it was knocked loose or you have been grinding forcing the tooth or teeth to loosen or de-bond. Another common circumstance that can cause this to happen is decay that has spread weakening the underlying foundation resulting in de-bonding. Whatever the case may be, it is important that you ultimately see your dentist to have it properly put back on. This is not an emergency that should cause you to panic, but it is imperative that you go ahead and remove the loose crown or bridge from your mouth as you don’t want to swallow it by accident, or worse, breathe it into your windpipe. Call your dentist and see if they can get you in fairly quickly, because by waiting you are running the risk of your remaining tooth structure shifting in which case your crown will no longer fit and have to be remade. In the meantime, it is important that you do not try to fix it yourself with bubble gum or temporary cement that you can purchase at the pharmacy. This can be risky because it is not a permanent solution putting you at risk of swallowing it or inhaling it. It is extremely important that you DO NOT try to super glue it back into place as this too is not a permanent fix and this material will most certainly damage the existing crown or bridge.
What if I accidentally break or chip my tooth?
Usually a small chip in your tooth is nothing to stress out about. You should still get into your dentist’s office to let them take an x-ray and make sure that no dentin (the 2nd layer of your tooth) is exposed, but this is not an emergency that must be checked out immediately. A small chip in the tooth’s enamel (hard outer coating) often times can be smoothed and polished, and the tooth is good to go. A break in the tooth, on the other hand, should be treated right away. If dentin is exposed, a dentist will need to cover it for protection until a permanent repair can be made. If the break is so severe that the pulp becomes damaged, you will most definitely need to get in immediately and a root canal will need to be performed. In the meantime between chipping or breaking your tooth and getting an appointment to have it repaired, there are a few things that you can do at home to ease the situation.
1. Take an over the counter pain reliever, preferably not aspirin as it can increase the risk of heavy bleeding.
2. Rinse with warm salt water.
3. If the tooth is left with a jagged edge, the pharmacy sells wax paraffin which you can place over the jagged edge to create a smooth surface and protect the tongue, lip, and cheek.
4. Eat soft foods and avoid using your broken or chipped tooth when biting down.
What should you do if your tooth is completely knocked out?
If your tooth gets knocked out, this would be considered a medical emergency and you need to have it treated immediately. There is hope that the tooth can be re-inserted and saved by your dentist if the appropriate measures are taken. Naturally the first thing you must do is remain as calm as possible and locate the tooth that has been knocked out. When you pick it up, hold it by the crown of the tooth. If you try to hold it by the tooth’s roots, you may likely damage them. Place the tooth in a cup of milk and go straight to your dentist’s office for help. The sooner you get the tooth re-inserted into the gums, the greater chance you have for it to successfully re-implant, so time is of the essence.
What is going on when you begin to feel pain in or around your tooth and gums?
If you are experiencing discomfort in and around your tooth and gums, it could be coming from any number of oral issues. It could be something as simple as a popcorn kernel lodged beneath the gum line, worse than that it could be a sign that you have an abscess, it might even be something as routine as the eruption of a wisdom tooth. There are so many different things that could be going on inside your mouth causing pain. Whatever the case may be, if you are experiencing a great deal of discomfort, you need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to have it checked out. This is very important because the earlier you have the problem diagnosed, the better your chances of recovery. You certainly don’t want to let a dull ache go to the point it becomes a huge abscess around the root of your tooth. Don’t ignore the early red flags that there is a problem. I promise you, you will be glad in the long run.
How urgent is it to have orthodontic emergencies addressed?
Most orthodontic emergencies are not urgent problems. Most things like loose bands or poking wires can be remedied with a little ball of wax until you can conveniently get into your doctor to be seen. The same treatment can be used in case of mouth sores along with a dab of a numbing agent like Oragel until the tissues eventually form calluses. It is more urgent to get into the office for help in the case of a poorly fitting expander appliance or retainer as this can be uncomfortable, and if you let it go for too long, you could be at risk of losing the correction that has already been achieved. Read More