Dental emergencies can’t be planned. Day or night, they occur when you least expect them at inopportune moments.
While you can’t predict and plan for accidents, you can take proactive steps by learning to differentiate between a dental emergency that needs immediate attention, and a trauma that requires treatment within a day or two, or when an appointment opens up at your dental clinic.
What is classified as a dental emergency?
When faced with a cracked filling or loose prosthesis, it’s understandable that you’d want to see your dental practitioner without further delay. However, these dental issues, while inconvenient and perceived as an emergency by you, aren’t severe enough to justify immediate medical attention.
The most common types of dental emergencies are knocked out or extruding teeth, cracked or fractured pearly whites. Infections, soft tissue injuries, profuse bleeding from the affected site and severe pain from the source also cause for alarm.
How should I handle dental emergencies?
A serious blow to the mouth, gums or teeth requires an unavoidable urgent dental visit to assess the extent of the trauma, treat pain, and possibly save your tooth.
That said, there are a few things you can do to alleviate feelings of tenderness, salvage your pearly whites, stop bleeding and make the whole experience more manageable and less frightening.
- Knocked-Out Tooth
A knocked-out tooth can occur while chewing on something solid, during a rugby tackle or falling resulting in a hard impact to the mouth. However, the incident occurs; time is of the essence to try to restore your teeth which is possible thanks to modern dentistry.
Medical experts advise that you visit your dentist and have your tooth repositioned in the socket within the hour, with your chances of saving your tooth significantly lowered after that.
With that being said, there are a few techniques you can employ before seeing the dental practitioner. Hold the tooth by the crown, making sure to avoid touching the roots, and clean it with water if it’s dirty. Try to reposition the tooth back in the socket. If the task proves challenging, don’t force the tooth. Instead, sit it in milk or saliva to prevent it from drying out.
- Extruding tooth
A partially dislodged or extruding tooth can be extremely painful. Visiting the oral health practitioner promptly is necessary to provide temporary pain relief and re-align the affected tooth. You can stop the swelling by applying a cold compress and take over-the-counter medication if you’re in agony.
- A loose filling
Having a filling shift in public might be embarrassing, but unless it’s accompanied by pain or bleeding, doesn’t constitute an emergency, so don’t expect your dentist to clear his or her schedule. Sugarless gum will keep the filling in place temporarily until a dental practitioner can repair it.
- Something caught between your teeth
Dental floss is extremely helpful in these circumstances. However, it would help if you learned how to floss your teeth before attempting to dislodge the food particles stuck between your teeth, using gentle gliding motions. Make an appointment with your dentist to remove the morsels professionally if you can’t. Caught food might not be deemed an emergency but can have detrimental effects for your oral health if it’s not removed.