What To Do If You Have a Dental Emergency
If you have ever had a dental emergency then you understand how frightening and painful it can be. Often people are unsure what constitutes a dental emergency, who they should call, and what they can do at home when they experience a dental emergency. Follow these guidelines for determining how to best handle your dental emergency.
Is It Urgent?
Certain dental emergencies are urgent while others can wait to be treated. It’s especially important to understand the difference between the two if you experience a dental emergency over the weekend or at night time when dental offices are typically closed.
The following are examples of urgent dental emergencies:
- Bleeding That Will Not Stop
- A Loose or Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
- Injured Jaw
- Painful Swelling
- Painful Toothache
Urgent dental emergencies should be dealt with right away. Call your dentist immediately if you experience any of the above problems.
Most dentists have an emergency number in the event that you experience any of the above problems outside of business hours. If you are still unable to reach your dentist for whatever reason, visit the emergency room in the event of an urgent dental emergency.
The following are examples of non-urgent dental emergencies:
- Lost Filling, Crown, or Bridge
- Broken or Cracked Tooth (unless the tooth is causing you severe pain)
- Broken or Damaged Retainer or Night Guard
- Food lodged between teeth
- Dull toothache
If you experience a non-urgent dental emergency, it is still recommended that you contact your dentist as soon as possible. However, it is usually not imperative that you are seen right away.
Who Should I Contact?
Your dentist is the obvious go-to when you experience a dental emergency, but in some situations it may be best to go straight to the emergency room. As a general rule, you should go to the emergency room if you are experiencing unbearable pain or bleeding that cannot be stopped and your dentist’s office is closed.
If you are not in exceptional pain, you are advised to call your dentist and explain the situation. Most dentists will attempt to see you as soon as possible, but don’t fret if they can’t see you right away. Many dental emergencies are not urgent (even though they may feel like they are!).
What To Do At Home if You Have a Dental Emergency
Depending on the dental emergency that you experience, there may be things you can do at home to help ease your pain and remedy the situation. Regardless of the emergency, one of the most important things to do is stay calm. When you get anxious your body triggers a number of responses that may make your emergency worse, so try your best to remain calm while seeking the assistance that you need.
The following are a list of suggested things you can do at home to help ease any pain or discomfort caused by a dental emergency:
- Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a mug of boiling water and use it as a warm mouthwash to relieve irritation and reduce swelling.
- If you have a tooth knocked out, put it in a glass of milk until you can get to your dentist.
- Floss! If you are experiencing pain surrounding one specific tooth, it is possible that something has gotten stuck between your teeth or inside the gum tissue.
- Use a cold compress to help reduce swelling, numb irritation, and stop any bleeding that may occur.
- Swish with Hydrogen Peroxide to help kill bacteria and alleviate irritation
Preventing Dental Emergencies
If you suffer a dental emergency, you may be wondering what you can do in the future to prevent another one from occurring. The best way to protect yourself from a dental emergency is to see your dentist twice a year for comprehensive hygiene visits. If you keep these appointments you are much less likely to have something painful and unexpected pop up in your mouth.
Other tips for preventing dental emergencies include:
- Complete whatever treatment your dentist recommends for you. Dental problems only get worse with time. If you put off a filling, crown, or root canal, you are putting yourself at-risk for unexpected pain down the road.
- Brush and floss daily. Developing a strong oral hygiene routine will help keep your mouth healthy and your teeth strong.
- Take it easy on foods that are especially tough or chewy. Examples include hard bread, jerky, pretzels, hard candy, and chewy candy.
- Ask your dentist if you have periodontal disease (gum disease). If you have gum disease, you may need additional hygiene visits each year.
- Receive an annual VELscope Oral Cancer Screening.
Dental emergencies are never fun, but knowing how to handle them can make all the difference in the world! Remember to consider whether the emergency is urgent or not and then contact the appropriate professional to help you the next time you experience a dental emergency.