Tips on How to Avoid Permanent Damage
For all dental emergencies, get to your dentist immediately. The dentists at Personal Care Dentistry block time in their schedules for emergency patients. Call ahead and provide as much detail as you can about your condition. If the accident occurs when your dental office is not open, visit your local emergency room.
Do not ignore the problem. Any dental emergency, like an injury to the teeth or gums, can be potentially serious. Ignoring an immediate dental issue can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment later on.
TREATING COMMON DENTAL EMERGENCIES
Knocked-out Permanent or Adult Tooth
Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse off the tooth root with water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. make sure it’s facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it’s not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth between your cheek and gums or in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available). Keep it moist at all times. You can also use a product containing cell growth medium, a tooth preservation product that has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
In all cases, see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth have the highest chances of being saved if seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
A Child Knocks out a Tooth
If the tooth is a baby tooth, the best thing to do is find the tooth, keep it moist and get to a dentist. Your dentist can see whether the entire tooth, or just part of it, came out. Your dentist can also determine whether to implant it again.
If it is an adult tooth, follow the steps listed above.
Extruded (partially dislodged) Tooth.
See your dentist right away. Until you reach your dentist’s office, to relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area.
Cracked, Chipped or Broken Tooth
Immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area; rinse any broken pieces. Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down. If there’s bleeding, apply gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Save any pieces of tooth and present them to your dentist.
Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue.
As a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement. See your dentist as soon as possible.
If the crown falls off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can’t get to the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue!
Broken Braces and Wires
If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue, or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can’t reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist’s office. Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs.
Loose Brackets and Bands
Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontist as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call your orthodontist for an appointment to have it re-cemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced).
Abscesses are a serious Infection that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth. The infection could possibly spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Because of the serious oral and general health problems that can result from an abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that usually is painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.
Objects Stuck in the Mouth
Try to gently remove with floss but do not try to remove it with sharp or pointed instruments. The item might be painful or cause an infection, so see your dentist if you cannot remove it.
Emergency While Traveling
Use the Find a Dentist tool at MouthHealthy.org to locate an ADA member dentist near you.
How to Avoid Injury to the Teeth:
Wear a mouth guard when participating in sports or recreational activities.
Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy, all of which can crack a tooth.
NEVER use a sharp instrument on your teeth.
Pack an emergency dental-care kit, including:
Dentist’s phone numbers
Small container with lid
Ibuprofen (Not aspirin. Aspirin is an anticoagulant, which may cause excessive bleeding in a dental emergency.)
The Save-A-Tooth emergency tooth preservation kit is also a smart addition to your first aid kit in case you lose a tooth unexpectedly.
Sources: MouthHealthy.org/American Dental Association (ADA), Web MD, KnowYourTeeth.com