People risk breaking their teeth or otherwise injuring their mouths while eating, playing, exercising, and participating in other seemingly harmless activities. It’s important to understand what to do in case of a dental emergency so that your tooth can be repaired when you are able to see a dentist. As we all know, accidents can and do happen. If you or someone you know has a dental emergency, don’t panic. These tips will tell you what to do in case of a dental emergency.
What are dental emergencies and how can I avoid them?
Dental emergencies can occur when your tooth breaks, cracks, becomes loosened, or is knocked out completely. Sometimes dental crowns come off of teeth. Lips, gums, or cheeks can be cut. Dental emergencies can be avoided by taking simple precautions, such as wearing a mouthguard during sports activities to prevent teeth from breaking or being knocked out, and avoiding hard foods that may crack or break your teeth—whether you have your natural teeth or you wear dentures. Oral injuries often are painful and should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible.
Never put any pain killers, including aspirin, on the gum because it can burn the gum tissue. Clean your mouth out by rinsing thoroughly with warm water. Gently floss around the tooth to remove any food particles that may be caught there. If your tooth continues to hurt, you should call your dentist as soon as possible. A toothache can result from several dental problems. Regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings can help prevent toothaches.
2. Broken Tooth
If your tooth breaks, the first thing you should do is contact your dentist immediately. You should also clean your mouth out by rinsing thoroughly with warm water. Apply a cold compress to the area to minimize any swelling.
3. Possible Broken Jaw
If you think that your jaw might be broken, apply a cold compress to the area to minimize any swelling. You will need to see your dentist immediately or go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
4. Knocked Out Tooth
If your tooth has been knocked out, rinse the tooth off very gently to make sure it is clean. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any tissue that is attached to it. Be sure to place a towel or wash cloth in the sink so that it does not go down the drain. If you can, gently place the tooth back into the socket. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a small container or cup of milk. You will need to take the tooth with you and get to your dentist immediately.
5. Bitten Tongue or Lip
If you have bitten your tongue or lip, gently wipe the area clean with a cloth. Apply a cold compress to the area to minimize any swelling. If the bleeding will not stop, you should go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
6. Something Caught Between Your Teeth
Gently insert a piece of dental floss or a dental flosser. Be very careful not to cut the gum tissue. If you are unable to remove the object, contact your dentist. Never use a sharp object to try and remove something that is stuck in between your teeth.
7. Tooth is pushed out of position?
If your tooth is loosened and pushed out of position, call your dentist right away for an emergency appointment. In the meantime, attempt to reposition it to its normal alignment using very light finger pressure—but don’t force it!
8. Chipped or fractured tooth?
There are different types of tooth fractures. Chipped teeth are minor fractures. Moderate fractures include damage to the enamel, tissue, and/or pulp. Severe fractures usually mean that a tooth has been traumatized to the point that it cannot be recovered.
If you fracture a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water and use an ice pack or cold compress to reduce swelling. Take ibuprofen, not aspirin, for pain. Your dentist can smooth out minor fractures with a sandpaper disc. Alternatively, restorative procedures may be needed to fix the tooth.
Never attempt to glue a natural tooth or part of a natural tooth back into place!
9. Tissue of my mouth is injured?
Injuries inside the mouth include tears or cuts, puncture wounds, and lacerations to the cheek, lips, or tongue. The wound should be cleaned immediately with warm water, and the injured person should be taken directly to an oral surgeon for emergency care. If you can’t get to an oral surgeon, the patient should be taken to the hospital. Bleeding from a tongue laceration can be reduced by pulling the tongue forward and using gauze to place pressure on the wound.
Can I somehow prepare for dental emergencies?
Yes, by packing an emergency dental care kit including:
- Dentist’s phone numbers (home and office)
- Saline solution
- Small container with lid
- Ibuprofen (NOT aspirin. Aspirin is an anti-coagulant, which may cause excessive bleeding in a dental emergency.)