Dealing with a dental emergency is always a stressful experience. Knowing what to do can help to alleviate stress and improve patient outcomes. Read on to find out how to deal with the immediate aftermath of some of the most common dental emergencies.
Patients experiencing painful swelling of their soft tissues should always schedule emergency dental appointments as soon as possible. Painful swelling is often caused by abscesses and other infections, which can be life-threatening. Patients should visit their dentists or, if necessary, an emergency room as quickly as possible to identify the cause of the swelling and develop a treatment plan.
Bleeding That Won’t Stop
Lacerations, tears, and puncture wounds to the soft tissues in the mouth should always be considered dental emergencies. Patients should clean the affected area immediately using warm water and head to the dentist immediately. In the meantime, place pressure on the wound using clean gauze and avoid taking ibuprofen or aspirin, which act as anticoagulants and can worsen bleeding.
Unbearably Painful Toothaches
Minor toothaches don’t generally require emergency care. However, if a toothache is unbearably painful, that warrants a visit to an emergency dentist. Patients can take acetaminophen to control the pain, but should not apply topical painkillers like Orajel, which can cause burns to gum tissues.
Permanent teeth that are loose or out of alignment can easily get knocked out. Call to schedule an emergency dental appointment to have the tooth splinted and stabilized. In the meantime, try to gently push the tooth back into position or bite down to stop it from moving, but don’t try to force it.
There’s a very short time frame for reinserting knocked-out teeth, so patients should prioritize getting to the dentist right away. Prepare the knocked-out tooth for reinsertion by picking it up by its crown, rinsing it off gently, and attempting to place it back into its socket. If it can’t be placed back into the socket, place it in a small cup of milk. The longer it takes to get to the dentist, the less likelihood there is of the tooth remaining viable, so time is of the essence.
Lost Crowns or Fillings
Crowns and fillings are designed to protect teeth from further decay. When they fall out, it exposes the tooth’s interior, which can introduce bacteria. Most dentists don’t consider lost crowns or fillings dental emergencies, but patients should still take these issues seriously. Clean the area thoroughly, dry it, and place the crown or filling back in using a temporary denture adhesive until the dentist can properly re-cement it.
Chipped or Broken Teeth
If a tooth becomes chipped, cracked, or fractured, it’s usually OK to wait a few days to see the dentist. However, if the damaged tooth is causing the patient significant pain, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with an emergency dentist. In the meantime, clean the mouth by rinsing with warm water, take some acetaminophen, and apply a cold compress to control swelling.
Other Dental Emergencies
The conditions described above are just a few of many issues tackled by emergency dentists. The bottom line here is that if a patient is in extreme pain, has uncontrolled bleeding, or is exhibiting signs of an oral infection, those are all issues that must be tackled as soon as possible. Mild toothaches, sensitivity, and sore spots can usually wait until normal business hours, but don’t hesitate to call an emergency dentist if the pain becomes too much to bear.