Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can make all the difference. To save your teeth, you should follow these instructions when you need urgent dental care.
One moment you’re feeling great and having fun playing football. The next—you just knocked out one of your own teeth.
And you have no idea what to do next!
You’ve been taught what to do in some medical emergencies. After all, you know that you’re supposed stop, drop, and roll for fire or perform the heimlich when someone is choking. But what are you supposed to do for a dental emergency?
Generally, there are 2 options for dental emergencies: go straight to the ER or care for the injury until you’re able to see your dentist. To help you decide what is best in different dental emergencies, here’s what you need to know:
Is Your Condition Urgent?
Not every dental issue requires a visit to the ER. Sometimes, it may be wiser financially to see your usual dentist if your condition isn’t in need of immediate medical attention.
Even if these don’t require emergency medical care, it’s still important to see our dentist as soon as possible it you have one or more of the following problems:
- Dull toothache
- Lost filling, bridge, or crown
- Broken or chipped tooth (unless there is sever pain)
- Objects caught between teeth
- Broken braces or wires
Urgent Dental Care Emergencies
Some dental problems can be treated at home until your dentist can see you, whereas others may require urgent attention. Here are some examples of dental emergencies.
- Injured jaw
- Painful swelling
- A permanent tooth that has been partially or fully knocked-out
- Severe toothache
- Tooth infection that leads to fever, severe pain, and swelling
It’s crucial that you know the difference between non-emergency dental issues and problems that require urgent care. Call your dentist immediately if you experience any of those problems.
Handling Dental Emergencies
If you experience a dental emergency at night or over the weekend when dentists’ offices are closed, it’s important that you know how to deal with the issues in the meantime. This list compiled from WebMD can help you know what to do in different dental emergencies:
- Toothaches – Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. If you have food or an object lodges between your teeth causing pain, remove it with dental floss. If you are experiencing swelling, apply cold pack to the outside on your cheek or mouth in the area. You can also take an over-the-counter painkiller, but don’t put it against the gums near the aching tooth— it may actually burn the gum tissue.
- Broken or chipped tooth – If you’re able, save any pieces of the tooth. Wash the broken pieces if any and rinse your mouth with warm water. Apply gauze to bleeding area until the bleeding stops or for about 10 minutes. Ice the area of the broken or chipped tooth on the outside of the mouth or cheek to relieve pain and swelling.
- Partially dislodged tooth – An extruded tooth will likely need immediate attention in order to save the tooth. Leave the tooth in its socket, even if feels like it’s about to come out. Until you’re able to see your dentist, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever and apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth.
- Knocked Out Tooth – If you’re able to retrieve the tooth, rinse off the tooth with water if it’s dirty. Be sure to hold it by the crown and not the roots. Don’t remove any tissue fragment. Try to put the tooth back in it’s socket if possible, making sure that it’s facing the right way. Don’t force it in. If you’re unable to reinsert the tooth, put it in a small container of milk or a cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt. The highest chance of saving your tooth is seeing your dentist within 1 hour of it being knocked out, so it’s important that you seek attention right away.
- Lost Crown or Filling – If you’re unable to see your dentist immediately, there are a few things you can do to handle the situation. If you’re experiencing pain, you can apply clove oil or powder to the sensitive area with a cotton swab. If you can, try to place the crown back over the tooth. You can use an over the counter dental cement, a denture adhesive, or toothpaste to hold the crown in place until you see your dentist. If you have a lost dental filling, you can also use a piece of sugarless gum to temporarily hold it in place.
- Food/Object caught in teeth – If something lodged between your teeth is causing you pain, try to use dental floss the carefully remove it. Be gentle, and do not use a sharp object like a pin to poke at the object, as this could scratch your teeth and gums. If you can’t remove it yourself, see your dentist.
- Loose brackets – You can use a small piece of orthodontic wax to temporarily reattach loose bracket. You can also use the wax as a cushion by placing it over the braces to it doesn’t scratch your mouth. In this case, it’s important that you see your orthodontist as soon as you can.
- Broken braces or wires – Do not cut the wire yourself. Try using the eraser end of the pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position to prevent it from poking other parts of your mouth. If you’re unable to reposition the wire, you can use a small cotton ball, orthodontic wax, or a piece of gauze to cover the end of the wire until you see your dentist.
- Tooth Abscess – An abscessed tooth is an infection at the root of a tooth, usually caused by severe tooth decay. If left untreated, they can lead to damaged tissue and teeth, with the infection spreading to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. So, it’s important that you see your dentist as soon as possible if you think you may have an abscessed tooth. In the meantime, rinse your mouth several times a day with a mild saltwater solution to ease pain.
Many dental practices have an emergency number that you can call if you are in urgent need of dental care when office hours are closed. If for some reason you are still unable to get in contact with your dentist, you should visit the ER in the event of a serious dental emergency.
How to Prevent Dental Emergencies
Of course, accidents will happen no matter how careful you are. Still, there a few ways that you can help prevent dental emergencies:
- Wear a mouthguard or facecage during high intensity sports or activities.
- Stick to a healthy dental regimen.
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Avoid foods that are hard on your teeth.
- Stop bad habits like chewing on pencils or fingernails.
You never know when a dental emergency could happen, which is why it’s important to be prepared. As you use these guidelines for urgent dental care, take preventative measures, and have access to affordable dental care, you should have nothing to worry about.
Credits: Carefree Dental
Oral Health & Your Heart
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a disease involving the heart and blood vessels. It’s the No. 1 cause of death and disability in the United States today, with almost 700,000 Americans dying of heart disease each year.1 That represents almost 29% of all deaths in the United States.1
Heart disease and gum disease have several things in common. For example, inflammation is common in both cases, and inflammation can contribute to narrowing coronary arteries and breaking down the tissue that holds teeth in place.2 Emerging research suggests a possible association between gum disease and CVD, as the oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause a defense reaction throughout the body.3,4 Also, bacteria from the mouth can travel to important organs in the body, including the heart, and begin a new infection.4
79.4 million Americans had one or more forms of CVD in 2004.5
Treating CVD depends on what form of the disease a patient has. The most effective treatments are always lifestyle changes. Whether CVD development is related to gum disease or not, keeping up with good brushing and flossing habits is essential.
CVD—What’s the Cost?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)–including heart disease and stroke–causes the deaths of more American men and women, regardless of their race or ethnic background, than any other disease.6 What’s more, CVD costs Americans billions of dollars each year–about $300 billion–in health care treatments, medications, and lost productivity because of disability and death.6
SOME TYPES OF CVD
- Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Coronary artery disease (condition reducing blood flow through the coronary arteries)
- Heart valve disease (condition causing malfunction of heart valves)
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Orthostatic hypotension (sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing)
- Endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart)
- Heart failure (cessation of heartbeat)
CVD RISK FACTORS
- Diabetes mellitus
- High cholesterol
- Exposure to high levels of environmental noise
- Genetic factors/family history
If You’re at Risk for CVD…
See a physician and discuss proper ways to prevent it, as well as different possible treatments if you find out you have it.
Also, talk to your dentist or hygienist about gum disease and ask if it’s a potential problem for you and your overall health.
Make sure you visit your medical and dental professionals on a regular basis to remain as healthy as possible.
What You Can Do
A Healthy Diet Can Help Decrease Your Risk1:
- Keep your total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Limit or eliminate extra salt or sodium
- Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet
Surprise! Oral Health Could Affect Your Heart
Researchers have found that people with severe gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as those without gum disease. Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection in the mouth–specifically in the soft tissue that supports the teeth. When your body reacts to this infection, your gums become inflamed, they may bleed, and in severe cases, your teeth may become loose.
The earliest form of gum disease is called gingivitis and the most severe is periodontal disease. When bacteria infect your mouth, inflammation results as your body fights the infection. Systemic inflammation has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of CVD.
Preventing gum disease and the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth by brushing and flossing twice a day–as well as seeing your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis–could ultimately be one way to also help prevent CVD problems.
In 2004, more than 147,000 Americans killed by CVD were under 65 years of age.5
5 Tips to Help Prevent Cardiovascular Problems
- Abstinence from tobacco use
- Cardiovascular exercise (aerobics); talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program
- Healthy eating habits
- Some medications (discuss with your doctor)
- Aspirin therapy (talk to your doctor before starting any new medication program)
The content of this guide is for information purposes only. It does not substitute for the dentist’s professional assessment based on the individual patient’s case.
Credits: Colgate-Palmolive Company