The term dental emergency tends to be used in a very broad way, but it refers to any sudden problem of the mouth or teeth that requires professional treatment quickly. The majority of dental emergencies cannot be treated entirely at home. In most cases, you will need a dental appointment as soon as you can get one. Most dentists reserve time for emergency walk-ins, but it is very much the way of things that problems will occur when your dentist is closed. Some problems are more urgent than others, and may require locating an emergency dentist who is open extended hours. Here are the most common dental emergencies:
Broken or Lost Fillings and Crowns
Both fillings and crowns can become broken or damaged. A good dentist will reduce the risk of this by checking your fillings and crowns when you come in for an exam and scheduling a repair. However, this can’t prevent all emergencies.
For a lost filling:
- Use over-the-counter dental cement to plug the hole. If you are unable to get any, sugarless gum will work.
- Call your dentist immediately. A lost filling can result in a lost tooth or a root canal if not treated quickly.
For a lost crown:
- If at all possible, retrieve the crown.
- Apply a small amount of clove oil to any area that is sensitive.
- Take the retrieved crown. Coat the inner surface with over-the-counter-dental cement. If you don’t have any, use toothpaste or denture adhesive. Do not use glue. Then slip the crown back over your tooth.
- Call your dentist immediately to make an appointment for a proper repair.
You can prevent lost or broken fillings or crowns by seeing your dentist regularly and agreeing to any repair or replacement they suggest. Good dental hygiene will help prevent plaque from building up at the edge of a filling, which can cause it to loosen.
If you develop a sudden toothache, then you will definitely want to see your dentist as soon as possible. In the interim:
- Thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Floss gently around the aching tooth to remove any food.
- If you have swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth.
- As needed, take an over-the-counter painkiller. Do not place a painkiller, especially aspirin, on your gums, as this can cause problems.
- Call your dentist.
If a permanent tooth is completely dislodged, then don’t panic. It is often possible for your dentist to restore the tooth if you are quick enough.
- Retrieve the tooth. Handle it only by the crown.
- Rinse off the tooth root with water, but do not scrub.
- Attempt to return the tooth to its socket. Make sure it is the right way around.
- If the tooth will not go back in, put it in a small container of milk, water with a pinch of table salt, or an over-the-counter tooth preservation product (If you or your child are involved in sports with a high risk of mouth and tooth damage, it’s good to keep that stuff around).
- Call your dentist and tell them it is an emergency. You need to be seen within an hour to have the highest chance of being able to save the tooth.
The best way to prevent lost teeth (and other damage) is to wear a custom mouthguard when engaging in contact sports and other dangerous activities.
Cracked or Broken Teeth
If you have cracked, broken, or chipped a tooth, which may be caused by trauma or chewing something too hard, then:
- Immediately rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Retrieve any pieces of tooth you can. The dentist may be able to reattach them. Rinse them.
- Put a cold compress outside your mouth, i.e. on your cheek or jaw.
- If there is bleeding, apply gauze to the area.
- Call your dentist. As with lost teeth, you need an appointment quickly.
Prevent cracked teeth by wearing a mouthguard, by not chewing hard items such as ice, and by not using your teeth as a tool to cut things or open bottles.
Something Stuck In Your Teeth
If you or your child has a foreign object lodged in between their teeth:
- Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water. Sometimes this can dislodge the object on its own.
- Try to remove the object with dental floss. Always use waxed floss for this, as it is stronger and less likely to break. Do not use a pin or other sharp object, as you can easily prick the gums.
- If you can’t get it out, call your dentist.
Generally, you don’t need professional care for a stuck object unless you are unable to remove it or you are bleeding and/or experiencing significant pain.
These common dental emergencies, however, generally do require professional care. In some cases, you may need to see an on-call emergency dentist. For lost teeth, always treat it as a major emergency that requires immediate attention. We at Garrett Orthodontics are happy to help anyone experiencing dental emergencies. To get to know us before such an emergency happens, schedule a complimentary consultation today! We can’t wait to meet you!