Tips for Handling a Dental Emergency
At some point in our lives, it is likely that we will all experience a dental emergency. If you have active children, there’s a good possibility that you have already made a mad dash to the dentist for immediate treatment.
While we’re talking about kids and dental emergencies, we want to take a moment to stress the importance of wearing mouth guards while playing sports like baseball, football, and soccer. Consider this - dentists estimate that nearly 40% of dental injuries occur while playing sports, and of these injuries, 80% affect the front teeth.
In the years that Dr. Kaplansky has been practicing dentistry, we’ve seen just about every type of dental emergency there is. Some are unavoidable, like traumatic injury due to an accident.
Others can be caused by a momentary lapse of common sense, as in the case of using your teeth to do things they weren’t meant to do, like tearing off a piece of duct tape. Still others are the result of a lack of proper preventive dental treatments, like regular professional cleanings.
Whatever your emergency, we want you to be prepared to deal with it properly. Here are some common dental emergencies and the best ways to deal with them until you can get to our office.
Unless you have super-human powers, it’s nearly impossible to ignore a toothache, and that’s a good thing. This kind of pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is very wrong and needs attention pronto! And don’t be fooled if you try to tough it out and the pain eventually subsides, because the underlying problem will remain and eventually come back to haunt you.
If your pain is severe, lasts more than a day, or spreads to your ears and head, do not hesitate to contact us immediately. In the meantime, rinse your mouth with warm water, floss carefully to dislodge any food, and apply a cold compress to decrease swelling and reduce pain.
An abscess is an infection of the nerve in the tooth or between the tooth and the gums. Abscesses are usually very painful and must be treated immediately – not only can the infection spread, but without prompt treatment it’s likely that you will lose the tooth. To reduce pain, try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water until you can get to our office.
Chipped or Broken Tooth:
Oh, if only you hadn’t decided to use your tooth as a nutcracker. If you do chip or break a tooth for any reason (even if a nutcracker had nothing to do with it,) rinse your mouth with warm water. Try holding a cold compress to the outside of your mouth close to the broken tooth to reduce any pain and swelling.
This is probably the single most frightening dental emergency, especially if it happens to your child. As challenging as it may be, do not panic! If you handle the tooth gently and call us right away, there’s a good chance we can save it.
Hold the tooth by the crown, and rinse it (gently!) with warm water. Most importantly, do not touch the root or any tissue attached to it. You can try to reinsert the tooth in the socket, but DO NOT force it. Keep the tooth moist – a cup of milk is the best, or use water if it’s your only choice.
This should be enough information to keep you in good condition until you can get to our Gasport dental office for treatment. Never ignore the symptoms of a serious dental problem. It will not go away on its own, and you really do put your oral health at great risk.