Maintaining a healthy smile is important for a person’s appearance and overall health. Regular dental visits provide thorough checkups and cleanings to keep teeth healthy and strong. When there is an issue, the dentist may require additional appointments to correct those problems.
Occasionally, incidents happen outside of normal appointments that can pose serious risks to the teeth or even create serious pain. Anything that falls outside of normal and routine care can be considered a dental emergency. However, the type of emergency can determine how quickly care is needed.
What is a Dental Emergency?
A dental emergency can refer to almost any dental problem that occurs outside of routine dental care. When patients have a dental emergency, it is important for them to seek proper treatment as soon as possible. This can help prevent further issues or even tooth loss.
Although most dental issues that occur outside of routine care may be considered an emergency, not every dental emergency requires immediate care. A lost filling, a chipped veneer, or even lost or damaged dental appliances should result in an appointment with the dentist as soon as one is available. However, these do not often require immediate care.
Immediate action should be taken when obvious emergencies occur. Severe pain or prolonged discomfort of the teeth, gum, or jaw requires immediate care. Any serious trauma to the mouth should be addressed by a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Even cracked, broken, or lost teeth constitute an emergency.
Dental Emergency Symptoms and Tips
There are a variety of dental emergencies that require immediate care even before heading to see the dentist. When a particular emergency occurs, these tips can help ease pain or even prevent further complications until the person is able to get the care they need.
A permanent tooth is knocked-out. A trauma or a severe blow to the mouth or face could completely knock out a permanent or adult tooth. In some cases, the tooth can be replaced if proper care is immediately taken after the tooth comes out.
If the socket where the tooth came out is unobstructed, placing the tooth back into the hole without touching the root can help preserve it until help can be received. If it is not possible, the tooth can be placed and held between the gum and cheek. If either of these is not possible, place the tooth in milk or a tooth preservation product until help can be reached.
Cracked or broken tooth. Trauma or even biting down on something too hard could crack or even break a tooth. This can be a very painful experience. The best method for easing pain and preventing issues is to first rinse the mouth out with warm water. After that is done, apply a cold compress to the area of the face to reduce any swelling.
Cuts, Lacerations, Bleeding. Blows to the face or even inadvertently biting the tongue or lip can cause soft tissue damage to the mouth. Cleaning the area with warm water can help to remove any dirt, debris, or blood. A cold compress can help reduce bleeding and potential swelling. If the injury is severe or bleeding does not stop, seek medical care for assistance.
Toothaches or Jaw Pain. Pain in teeth or the jaw can be caused by a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it is due to an infection of the tooth or gum. This pain can be accompanied by swelling, fever, or even difficulty swallowing.
Rinsing the mouth with warm water can help to remove any debris or food causing the issue. Gently using dental floss can also help to remove any food caught between teeth. Some mouthwash can also be beneficial in cleaning out the mouth to reduce pain. However, if the pain is severe and persistent, immediate care may be necessary.
Where to get Emergency Dental Care
Knowing how to get emergency dental care is very important for anyone to learn. Different levels of a dental emergency can sometimes require a different response. For example, if the dental emergency is one of the previously discussed ones that do not necessarily need to be addressed immediately, such as a lost filling, contact the dentist during regular hours to schedule an appointment.
For more serious emergencies, waiting for the next available appointment is not always an option. Fortunately, many dental facilities reserve spots during regular business hours to accommodate emergencies. If it is during regular business hours, contact the dentist to get in immediately.
For emergencies outside of regular business hours, call the office number. Some dentists utilize an answering service for such emergencies. If there is voicemail, they will often provide instructions or another number to call for assistance. If leaving a message, provide details of the injury and how to be reached.
If the emergency is severe, or if there is excessive pain or bleeding, do not wait for the dentist to return the call. These types of emergencies require immediate care. Going to the local emergency department is the best option. They can provide help to relieve bleeding or pain until a dentist can be seen.
Tips for Avoiding a Dental Emergency
Although it is a good idea to know what to do when a dental emergency occurs, the best treatment for any type of emergency is prevention. There are a variety of steps individuals can take that can reduce their likelihood of having a dental emergency.
When participating in sports or other recreational activities that have the potential to cause a mouth injury, always wear a mouthguard. A properly fitted mouth guard can reduce the force of a blow to the mouth and prevent damage to the teeth.
It is also important to avoid trying to chew very hard items. Ice, popcorn kernels, hard candies, and other very hard food items have been known to crack teeth. It is also a good idea to use scissors whenever opening things. The teeth should never be used as an opening device. This action could cause damage to the teeth or even cuts to the gum.
Proper dental care and some safety precautions can prevent many types of dental emergencies. Hopefully, most people will never need to use this information. However, having the information available but never using it is always better than needing it and not having the information.