What to Do in a Dental Emergency
We understand a dental emergency is upsetting and potentially very painful, which is why Sanford Dental Excellence is here to assist you with caring professional dentistry. If you or someone close to you have a dental emergency, please contact our friendly dental office immediately. Our dental team can provide useful advice over the phone to help you cope until you can get in to see us. We aim to see patients requiring emergency dental care on the same day, providing the treatment you need to relieve discomfort and pain. However, we also know that not everybody can get to see us or can contact us immediately. Knowing what to do when you have a dental emergency can be enormously reassuring.
Dental emergencies requiring urgent care include a toothache, knocking out or partially knocking out a tooth, breaking or chipping a tooth, or losing a crown or filling. Other urgent dental emergencies include getting something stuck in between your teeth or experiencing an injury to your cheeks, lips or tongue resulting in oral bleeding.
What to Do If You Have a Toothache
A tooth can begin to ache if it has untreated tooth decay, you have lost or damaged a filling, if the tooth has fractured, or if it has become abscessed. The pain can be constant, sharp or throbbing, or may only occur when you try to bite or chew on the affected tooth. The gum around the tooth might look swollen or red, and you could have an unpleasant taste if the tooth is infected. One thing to try is gently flossing around the affected tooth because if a piece of food has become stuck in between your teeth, it can be enough to dislodge a tooth slightly, potentially causing pain. You should always see a dentist for a persistent toothache, and emergency dental care is especially urgent if you develop a fever or begin to feel unwell. If you can’t come and see us immediately, go to your nearest emergency room. A severe tooth infection can affect your general health and in the worst case may become life-threatening.
Knocked out Tooth
If you knock out an adult tooth, there’s a small chance that our dentist, Dr. George Mitrogogos can successfully reinsert it, but you must act quickly. Contact us immediately or come and see us straight away. The sooner the tooth is reinserted, the better the chances of success and ideally you should see a dentist within the hour. Carefully pick up the tooth and rinse off any visible dirt, and if you feel able, you can reinsert the tooth into the socket, ensuring it faces the right way around! Hold it in place with a clean finger or bite down gently on a clean tissue and come to see us immediately. Otherwise, place the tooth in a small container with milk or saliva but don’t use water because this can damage the tooth. Bring the tooth with you so we can try to reinsert it.
Partially Knocked out Tooth
A partially knocked out tooth should also be treated as a dental emergency so contact us straightaway to make an appointment. It’s also important to seek dental care even if the tooth just takes a knock but looks okay because a blow to the tooth can cause unseen damage. It’s essential we assess the tooth thoroughly.
Knocked out Baby Tooth
If a child knocks out a baby tooth, you shouldn’t try to reinsert it because it could damage the permanent adult tooth underneath. Instead, bring the child to see us as soon as you can. If you’re not sure whether it’s a baby tooth or a permanent tooth, please come to see us immediately and bring the tooth with you.
Chipping or Breaking a Tooth
Usually, it’s possible to save a broken or chipped tooth, but it is essential to see a dentist as soon as you can. Any break in the tooth allows disease-causing bacteria to enter the tooth, and without treatment, you could end up with a nasty infection. Small chips and breaks can often be mended with a white filling material called composite resin, invisibly restoring the tooth to its former glory. More serious breaks to a tooth may require root canal treatment, and it might be necessary to cover up the tooth entirely with a dental crown to protect it.
Losing a Filling or Crown
If you lose a filling or feel a filling crumbling away, it’s important to see us as quickly as you can to prevent bacteria from getting inside the tooth where they will cause infection and decay. You can use a small piece of softened sugar-free chewing gum to temporarily fill the cavity and which will protect the tooth for a short period of time.
Sometimes it’s possible to re-cement a dental crown, so bring it with you just in case. You can also buy emergency dental kits over-the-counter and which include temporary cement for dental crowns, but the crown will still need to be refitted and re-cemented properly. Please don’t forget that you should never use any type of glue and especially superglue to try to reattach a crown. For a start, superglue is toxic, and secondly, it will most likely damage your tooth or crown, or both beyond repair.
Something Stuck in between Your Teeth
Initially, try to remove the object by gently flossing around the tooth, but if this doesn’t work then come and see us. You should never use anything sharp or pointy because it could damage your gums or tooth.
Injury to Your Cheeks, Lips or Tongue
If you injure the soft tissues in your mouth or your lips and have mild or moderate bleeding, use a clean piece of gauze and gently apply firm pressure to the injury for 15 minutes or so. An ice pack can help to reduce any swelling. However, if the bleeding fails to stop then visit your nearest emergency room straight away.
Some dental emergencies are unavoidable, but the risk of others can be minimized with ongoing preventative dentistry. Good preventative dental care will significantly reduce your risk of a toothache, and the condition of any dental restorations is continually monitored so they can be replaced as needed. Also, don’t forget we can supply sports mouthguards for anyone participating in contact sports or where there’s a risk of a blow to the mouth. Wearing a well-fitting sports mouthguard can reduce the chances of knocking out or damaging a tooth, and it’s far cheaper than a lifetime of restorative dentistry!