Dental emergencies can still happen no matter how much you try to avoid them, and they can take place at such an inconvenient time. What’s worse is finding yourself in a situation where you have no immediate access to emergency dentists and no idea what to do.
Most people react to medical emergencies by dialing 911. Dental emergencies, however, are generally less life-threatening and call for a different response. While calling an ambulance won't be necessary, you'll have to act on dental emergencies quickly to alleviate the pain or control the damage.
Here are the do's and don'ts when dealing with a dental emergency.
DO stay calm. DON’T panic!
While dental emergencies often happen when they're least expected, most of them can be resolved after a trip to the dentist. Know that pain and bleeding are common in dental injuries and should not be a reason for you to freak out. If anything, panicking will only cause unnecessary stress and affect your ability to think clearly.
Inversely, the absence of pain after sustaining quite an impact on the mouth does not mean that you're perfectly fine. You can chip or break a tooth and not feel any pain until a few hours or even days later. If you took a blow to the mouth and something does not feel right, check the mirror for any injuries or have someone look at it for you.
DO visit the dentist ASAP!
Any feeling of significant pain in and around your mouth requires immediate dental care and attention. You'll also have to see a dental professional as soon as possible for cracked, chipped, broken, or dislodged teeth. Time is of the essence when it comes to dental emergencies. Delaying your visit to the dentist may only worsen the damage.
Dentists take dental emergencies seriously. Most practices set some time in their daily schedules to attend to emergency cases, and you can often get the care you need even without an appointment. If an injury occurs past usual business hours, you can go to an after-hours dental clinic near you or rush to the hospital’s emergency room.
Ask your dentist if they accommodate dental emergencies beyond their opening hours. If they don’t, make sure you know at least one dental practice in your area that does.
DO know what to do.
You need to know how to handle common dental emergencies, just in case they happen at a time or situation that prevents you from seeking immediate dental care.
These tips will help you manage some of the most common dental emergencies until you can get to the dentist.
For chipped or cracked tooth:
Rinse the tooth with warm water to clean it. If swelling occurs, place a cold compress on the part of your face closest to the injured tooth.
For food or objects stuck between teeth:
Rinse the area with warm water and try to remove the stuck food or object with dental floss gently. Don't merely use any sharp objects as these can scratch the surface of your teeth or your gums.
If you bit your tongue or gums by accident, cleanse the injured area with water and apply cold compress afterward.
For knocked-out tooth:
An emergency dentist can re-implant a knocked-out tooth within 30 minutes after the injury occurs. Of course, this means taking the knocked-out tooth to the dentist's office with you.
When picking up a knocked-out tooth, hold it by the crown and NOT by the root, as this will reduce the chance of successful reimplantation. If the tooth has some dirt on it, rinse it off with water and keep it moist by dropping it in a glass of milk or water.
DON’T take aspirin when there’s bleeding.
More often than not, oral injuries involve some pain and bleeding. When this happens, you can apply a cold compress outside the injured area to control the bleeding and relieve the pain.
In some cases, however, the pain can be too much to bear, and you might want to take painkillers. While pain relievers like ibuprofen are okay, never take aspirin. Aspirin is a blood thinner and may make the bleeding worse.
The most important thing that you need to know about dental emergencies is that the longer you wait before seeing the dentist, the worse and more expensive the problem will be.
Seeking professional dental care within 30 minutes of an oral injury can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth.