Any dental emergency such as an injury to the teeth or gums can be considered serious and should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem will increase the risk of permanent damage, and the need for more extensive and expensive treatment later on may be necessary.
Here’s a quick summary of what to do for some common dental emergencies:
Toothaches: First thing to do is thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Secondly, use floss to remove any food particles. If your mouth is swollen, use an icepack on the outside of your mouth or cheek. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Chipped or Broken Teeth: Save any and all pieces. Rinse your mouth using warm water and rinse any tooth fragments. If there’s bleeding, use a piece of gauze for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding ceases. Apply an icepack to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep the swelling down and relieve pain. See your dentist right away.
Knocked Out Teeth: Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown and rinse off the tooth root with water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub the tooth or detach any tissue fragments. If it’s possible, try and put the tooth back in place. Make sure it’s the right way and never force it into the socket. If it isn’t possible to insert the tooth, put it in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available). In all cases, see your dentist as soon as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
Lost Filling: For temporary use, push a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will be painful) or use over-the-counter dental cement.
Lost Crown: If the crown gets separated from the tooth, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as you are able and bring the crown with you. If you are unable to see the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain, use cotton to apply clove oil to the sensitive area. If possible, re apply the crown to the tooth. Before that, coat the inner layer with dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help temporarily secure the crown.
Broken Braces and Wires: If a wire snaps or protrudes out of a bracket and is poking your cheek, tongue, or gum, use the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a better position. If you are unable to move the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a cotton ball, or gauze until you can get to an orthodontist.
Loose Brace Brackets: Temporarily reattach loose brackets with orthodontic wax. Another option is to place the wax over the braces to provide an obstruction between cheek and bracket. See your orthodontist as soon as possible.
Abscess: Abscesses are infections that place themselves around tooth roots or between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are serious infections that can harm tissue and surrounding teeth, with the possibility of infection spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.
See your dentist as soon as possible if you find a pimple-like mound on your gum that is typically painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus to the surface, try a salt water rinse, several times a day.
Soft Tissue Injuries: Injuries to the soft tissues (tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips) can cause bleeding. To control the bleeding, follow these steps:
- Rinse your mouth with a salt-water mixture.
- Use wet gauze or a tea bag to apply pressure to the trauma site. Hold for 15 to 20 minutes.
- To control bleeding and pain, use an icepack on the outside of the mouth or cheek for 5 to 10 minutes.
- If the bleeding doesn’t cease, see your dentist immediately if possible, or go to the emergency room. Keep the pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be treated.