Dental accidents and injuries happen. Here’s what to do if you’re experiencing a dental emergency.
If one thing is certain, it’s that accidents happen, and sometimes those accidents lead to injuries.
For injuries such as a rolled ankle or bad laceration, it’s usually easy for most people to tell when medical help is needed. However, dental injuries can be a little bit trickier to recognize and understand. This often results in people either seeking emergency help when it isn’t needed or waiting too long to seek help, resulting in an even more serious health condition.
Here are a few common dental emergencies and what you should do if you’re going through one of them yourself.
Is a broken or cracked tooth a dental emergency?
Teeth are exceptionally strong, but they can break fairly easily either from physical impact or if a tooth’s structure is already compromised from untreated decay.
What to do for a broken tooth with little to no pain.
If your tooth has broken or cracked, the first step is to immediately swish your mouth with warm water. If you’re not experiencing pain, you may lightly brush the surrounding teeth and your tongue to remove any food debris or bacteria.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, give your dentist a call to explain what happened, and schedule an appointment. A small break or crack with minimal to no pain is generally not considered an emergency, but you still should see your dentist within the week.
What to do for a broken tooth with pain and bleeding.
For a broken tooth that is throbbing, painful, and bleeding, medical help is absolutely needed.
If the broken tooth is bleeding, use gauze or a clean washcloth to apply pressure to the spot as best you can. Call your dentist (or have someone in your household call) to set up an emergency appointment.
For excessive bleeding that won’t stop or slow, it’s crucial that you get help right away. This means skipping the call to the dentist and going to an ER immediately.
My tooth got knocked out.
Completely losing a tooth is a very shocking experience. If you take the right action swiftly it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily permanently lose your tooth.
If you’ve just knocked out a tooth you need to react quickly. Pick up the tooth by the crown and be careful to not touch the root. If possible you can attempt to reposition the tooth back in the socket. If you can’t, either place the tooth in a glass of milk, in a Save-a-Tooth kit, or place it between your cheek and gums. It’s vital the tooth stays moist.
If the socket is bleeding, use gauze or a clean washcloth to control the bleeding. At this point, you should have someone drive you to your closest dentist. Ideally, you’ll be in the care of a dentist within 30 minutes.
My tooth is loose and wiggly.
A loose permanent tooth that you can wiggle is grounds for emergency dental care, even if the tooth itself doesn’t hurt.
Usually, a very loose tooth is caused by some sort of physical injury, from an impact to the face or biting down on a very hard object. In many cases, a random loose tooth is caused by a serious underlying issue, such as severe infection from gum disease.
If your tooth still seems somewhat stable and you have no pain, call your dentist to schedule an appointment within the week. If your tooth is very loose (pain or no pain), you need to see your dentist within the day to prevent the tooth from completely coming out.
While waiting for your appointment keep your mouth clean, avoid eating, and avoid touching the loose tooth. This includes refraining from brushing the tooth or attempting to floss.
Is a bad toothache a dental emergency?
Toothaches! Nothing can ruin a day like sudden tooth pain, and usually, it happens at the most inopportune moments. The average toothache can be remedied by swishing with salt water, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, and giving your dentist a call for an appointment. But toothaches aren’t something to ignore, especially when you’re in a lot of pain.
A toothache is moved into the category of an emergency if your pain is severe and you’re experiencing additional symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, fever, and facial swelling. Those last two symptoms are especially serious. Pain combined with a high fever and swelling in the face points towards an out-of-control infection. It is important to get treatment immediately.
If sudden tooth pain hits hard, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth to clear away any food debris. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever and, if you have some, apply a topical painkiller designed for toothaches. Call your dentist’s office right away, explain your symptoms, and get your appointment scheduled the same day, if possible.
If your dentist’s office is closed and you’re in terrible pain with swelling and fever, a trip to the emergency room is going to be needed. Although the typical ER can’t help your tooth, they will get you started on pain killers and antibiotics which will hold you over until your dentist can see you the next day.
The team at Millennium Dental is ready to provide effective, gentle relief for your dental emergency.
To schedule an urgent dental appointment, please call our office right away. During our normal business hours, we will do our best to get you seen as quickly as possible the same day.
If you’re experiencing a serious dental medical emergency, such as severe pain combined with facial swelling and fever, we recommend you get to an emergency room right away if our office isn’t open.