Common Dental Emergencies and First Aid

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Photo: Dentist Dental emergencies can happen to anyone. Maybe your kid knocked a tooth out at recess, or you gave yourself a nasty knock trying to avoid tripping over your Yorkie, or you broke a tooth and lacerated your lip trying to open a clamshell package with your teeth. Knowing what to do can save you time, possibly save your tooth, and ease your pain in the meantime.

Regardless of their cause, the dental emergencies below all have one thing in common: you should see a dentist as soon as possible. With that said, let’s get down to business.

I Knocked Out a Tooth

Keep the tooth moist. There are ADA-approved tooth preservation products, but most of us don’t keep those handy. Viable alternatives can be as simple as keeping it in a glass of milk or “storing” it in your mouth between your cheek and gums. Time is of the essence; try to get to the dentist’s office within thirty minutes. If the tooth cannot be re-implanted, you’ll need a dental implant or dental bridge to replace it.

I Cracked My Tooth

A cracked tooth can easily become a broken tooth if left untreated. Rinse with warm water and put a cold compress near the area to keep swelling down. Visit your dentist as soon as possible. A dental crown can help with chipped or cracked teeth.

My Tooth Hurts

There are a few possible causes here. A cavity is always a possibility, but there are times when a bit of food — a popcorn husk, a sesame seed, or other particle — lodges between your teeth and gums. Rinse with warm water first, then attempt to floss it out gently. Avoid using sharp objects that can further irritate the area. If nothing comes out, you may also have an abscess, which is an infection triggered by bacterial growth. Since abscesses are not only painful but also able to spread, they should not be neglected.

I Think My Jaw Might Be Broken

Usually we don’t suggest the emergency room for a dental emergency as they don’t have the access to the same equipment as your dentist. This is one instance where the ER is just as acceptable as a dentist’s office. Keep the area iced in the meantime to minimize pain and swelling.

I’ve Damaged the Soft Tissue in My Mouth

There are many ways to damage our soft tissue. At one time or another, we’ve all brushed a little too hard, bitten the inside of our mouth, or given someone a good whack because they tickled us. The damage is often superficial and can be addressed with a gentle rinse and a cold compress. However, if you find you’re experiencing excessive pain, bleeding heavily, or if the bleeding persists, see your dentist.

Take Preventative Measures

Of course, the best way to handle a dental emergency is not to have one. If you’re playing sports — especially a contact sport — it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard.

Be careful of dietary choices (like chewing on ice cubes or hard candy) that could dislodge fillings and dental work, or leave a tooth chipped or cracked. Getting your teeth checked regularly at Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center will ensure that a minor problem doesn’t become an emergency down the road.

Lastly, invest in a pair of scissors. They’re much cheaper — not to mention much less embarrassing — than addressing a dental emergency.

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