How to deal with a dental emergency.

Like emergency preparedness for a tornado or storm, knowing what to do (and what not to do) in the case of a dental emergency before you’re in one can help spare you from added stress, prevent loss and further damage, and provide you with a sense of calm, clear direction.

While you may never encounter a dental emergency (we hope not!), here’s what you need to know on how to deal with—and overcome—the most common dental emergencies.

You have a chipped or broken tooth.

Often the result of an accident or sports injury, chips and breaks are the most common type of dental emergencies.

What to Do

If your tooth is chipped, cracked, or broken, make an appointment with your dentist ASAP. While you wait to be seen, gargle with a warm saline solution to prevent infection, place a wrapped ice pack above your cheek to manage the pain, and put any recovered tooth fragments in cold milk or an emergency tooth preservation product approved by the ADA.

What Not to Do

The worst thing you can do for your smile if you have a cracked, chipped, or broken tooth is postpone making an appointment to see your dentist. Though a chipped or broken tooth won’t always be painful, the damage may eventually worsen and lead to undesirable dental complications, such as a tooth abscess or tooth loss.

Your tooth was knocked out.

Thanks to the anatomy of your tooth roots and jawbone, your teeth are anchored securely in place. That said, facial trauma that’s strong enough to fully or partially knock out a tooth is a serious dental injury that calls for immediate action and emergency dental intervention.

What to Do

Remain calm as you place sterile gauze in your mouth to control any bleeding and quickly locate your knocked-out tooth. Pick up the tooth by the crown (chewing surface) and, if needed, gently rinse off any dirt under slow-running water.

It’s vital to keep your tooth moist. If possible, carefully place the tooth back into its socket, hold your tooth between your cheeks and gums, or place your tooth in cold milk or an emergency tooth preservation product approved by the ADA.

Once you’ve located and placed your tooth in a safe place, go immediately to your dentist’s office. A knocked-out tooth has the best chance for survival if treated within 30 minutes, though it may be possible to save a tooth that’s been outside of the mouth for up to an hour.

What Not to Do

When it comes to saving a tooth that’s been knocked out, what you don’t do matters as much as what you do. For one, it’s critically important that you do not touch the tooth’s roots, which may damage the root cells beyond repair. Additionally, a knocked-out tooth should never be cleaned with soap or chemicals, placed in tap water, or wrapped in a cloth or tissue. Last but not least, don’t wait to see an emergency dentist! Your chance of successfully replanting a knocked-out tooth depends on getting treatment right away.

You lost a filling, crown, or veneer.

Alongside making your smile beautiful, functional, and healthy, fillings, crowns, and veneers provide protection and structure to treated teeth. Though these restorations are designed to last for years with routine dental visits and proper at-home care, they can become unexpectedly dislodged if exposed to sticky foods, facial trauma, untreated bruxism (grinding or clenching), underlying tooth decay, or an expired lifespan.

What to Do

To prevent tooth loss, decay, or damage, contact your dentist for an appointment ASAP. As a temporary solution, you can seal and protect a tooth that’s lost its restoration with dental cement, which you can find in the dental section of most drugstores and pharmacies.

What Not to Do

Though losing a restoration may not cause pain, don’t assume that you can put off getting treatment. Without its protective covering, your tooth is now vulnerable to tooth decay and cracking, which can cause bigger dental problems if left untreated. Additionally, it’s important to remember that while dental cement can fill the gap (sometimes literally) while you wait for your appointment, dental cement can never replace timely professional treatment.

You have a toothache.

Generally speaking, pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is damaged, infected, or otherwise not okay. Most toothaches are caused by tooth decay, enamel erosion, gum disease, tooth damage, or a tooth abscess, though other oral health issues—such as jaw problems (TMD) or bruxism—can also be to blame.

What to Do

As tooth pain very rarely goes away on its own, press pause on whatever you’re doing and make an appointment with your dentist. While you wait for your appointment, check out our post on home remedies for toothaches for short-term relief.

If you’re experiencing severe tooth pain along with a fever, facial swelling, mental confusion, an elevated heart rate, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, go to the emergency room straight away. You may have an abscessed tooth that has infected your jaw or surrounding tissues, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

What Not to Do

Above all, don’t “grin and bear” tooth pain. Alongside the often irreversible damage that may result from tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues, tooth pain may also be a sign that you have a tooth abscess, which requires prompt attention from your dentist in order to avoid the serious medical complications mentioned above.

Emergency Dental in Plano, TX

If you’re currently experiencing a dental emergency in Plano, TX, contact our office ASAP. We always recommend that you choose prevention over the cure, so keep your smile healthy and schedule your next appointment today.