Dental problems are very common, and every patient should be prepared to manage them. Serious emergencies involving the teeth or jaw can develop quickly and cause harm if not treated quickly and properly. Patients should become familiar with what to do in a dental emergency, and ask their dentist if they have any questions.
What Is A Dental Emergency?
A dental emergency is any type of injury or damage to the teeth, jaw, gums, neck, and throat that should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible. Many times a dental emergency is clearly understood, but other times a patient may not know whether it is an emergency or just a dental problem that can wait. The following list contains 9 common dental emergencies and what to do in a dental emergency
A Broken, Chipped, Or Cracked Tooth
If a tooth is chipped, cracked, or broken it must be treated as soon as possible. A single chip can cause discomfort and pain to a patient but if left untreated, a break could lead to further damage. Broken teeth should be treated right away by your dentist because sometimes the nerve can be damaged and it requires special attention to protect the tooth.
If your chip or crack seems small, you may be able to use over-the-counter painkillers, warm salt-water rinses, and gentle brushing. However, if the break is extensive or you are experiencing swelling or bleeding in the area, see your dentist immediately.
Severe Toothache Or Jaw Pain
A toothache is one of the most common dental emergencies. Your tooth may ache because of an infection, cracked or broken tooth, cavities, impacted teeth, or an abscess. Sometimes a toothache can indicate other problems in the body such as heart disease or diabetes.
You should see your dentist immediately if you have severe jaw pain that is associated with swelling, bleeding, or allergies. This could be a sign of infection or dry sockets, which are very dangerous. Your dentist will make sure that you are properly diagnosed and treated right away.
An abscess does not always start as a toothache; it can cause pain and pressure in the area rather than sharp, throbbing pain. The infection may also cause redness, fever, or swelling. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should see your dentist right away.
If you think that your abscess may be getting worse, get medical treatment ASAP. If you can get to the dentist within a few hours of when the pain started, you may be able to avoid a hospital visit altogether.
Broken Filling Or Crown
A broken filling or crown does not always require your dentist’s attention. If you have a loose or chipped filling, call your dentist and ask what you should do. If a filling is causing you discomfort, it may be able to be repaired rather than replaced.
A broken crown means that your tooth’s structural integrity has been compromised. You should carefully clean the area and see your dentist as soon as possible.
A broken jaw is a serious dental emergency that usually requires surgery. If you have any other medical conditions, such as diabetes, or take blood-thinning medication, you should let your dentist know right away. You may need antibiotics to prevent infection, and you should probably take painkillers as well.
You shouldn’t move your jaw or attempt to adjust it yourself. Leave it up to your dentist to decide if it needs to be manually realigned.
A cut or bleeding gum can be a painful dental emergency, but it is usually fixable. It may take several days for it to heal and you should avoid flossing or cleaning the affected area until it is no longer sore.
If you have a deep gash and the bleeding is heavy, you should see your dentist as soon as possible. If the bleeding lasts for more than a few minutes, it could indicate other problems such as a dry socket.
Loose Or Knocked-Out Teeth
A knocked-out tooth does not always need to be treated right away. It may still be possible to reinsert the tooth and save it. If you can put the tooth back in its socket within 30 minutes, your dentist may be able to reattach it successfully.
If you cannot put the tooth back into its socket, gently put it in a small container with some milk or saline solution. This will help to preserve the tooth until you can see your dentist.
If you are unable to see your dentist, keep the tooth moist by regularly adding more milk or saline solution.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Cuts, bites, and other soft tissue injuries may seem like minor dental emergencies. However, you should see your dentist right away so that the injury can be properly cleaned and protected.
If you have a deep wound, it is important to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage until the bleeding stops.
Missing or Loose Dental Restoration
Loose dental restorations are not very serious emergencies. However, you should see your dentist as soon as possible to have them repaired or replaced.
When To Contact Your Dentist
The following symptoms may indicate a serious dental problem and should be addressed as soon as possible. You should see your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Pain that doesn’t go away after a day or two. If your pain is severe or accompanied by swelling, redness, fever, or chills, you should see a doctor right away.
- Uncomfortable pain in the gums, jawbone, or neck that lasts for more than an hour.
- A tooth that has been knocked out or broken in half.
- You have a dental restoration that is damaged, fractured, or loose.
Precautions You Can Take To Avoid Dental Emergencies
There are several precautions you can take to avoid dental emergencies and these include the following:
- It is a good idea to go for regular checkups with your dentist every six months.
- Brush twice a day and floss once a day. Look for plaque on your teeth before you brush, because that is the number one cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and limit high-sugar foods and alcohol.
- You should also avoid using your teeth as tools, and use mouthguards when playing contact sports.
Dental emergencies can be very painful and sometimes scary, but they are usually fixable. Try to stay calm and if you are in doubt that you have a dental emergency, contact your dentist as soon as possible.