Book appointments or call and text us on 803-324-2919
Tooth decay, gum disease, a chipped tooth: these are just some of the most common dental emergencies. While prevention with good dental care is the best way to preserve your oral health, knowing what to do when emergency strikes helps prevent long-term damage. What are the most common dental emergencies — and do you know how to deal with them? With fast, immediate response and the right first aid treatment, you can prevent long-term damage and restore good oral health.
7 Common Dental Emergencies
Pain is never a good sign: it can indicate several conditions, including tooth decay. And while some toothaches are manageable without emergency treatment, certain signs — like swelling — require urgent attention. Avoid turning to common remedies like taking aspirin or other painkillers because contact with the affected gums can burn the tissue. Instead, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek and call a dental clinic for emergency care. Once your treatment is done, your dentist won’t stress enough the importance of basic oral hygiene to prevent cavities, tooth decay and other worse dental problems.
2. Chipped or broken teeth
Did you bite down on something a little too hard? A chipped or broken tooth doesn’t just ruin your perfect smile — it can also hurt. Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a piece of gauze to the site of the bleeding. Then, apply a cold compress to the part of your face closest to the broken or chipped tooth to reduce swelling and relieve pain. While seekingemergency dental care, your dentist will advise you to be conscious of biting down on hard and crunchy foods, as well as sports and other activities that can cause teeth to break or chip.
3. Knocked-out tooth
Similarly, as you’d handle a chipped or broken tooth, pick the tooth up by the crown (the exposed part in the mouth) and rinse off the root only if it is dirty. Otherwise, avoid scrubbing and removing attached tissue fragments. Depending on the injury, you may be able to put the tooth back in place but be careful not to push it into the socket. The sooner you can do this — ideally within the hour — the better your chances of saving a knocked-out tooth and restoring it in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, put it in a small cup with milk or water with a salt pinch.
4. Lost filling or crown
Crowns and fillings restore previously damaged teeth back to optimal appearance and function. So when these break, you need to get them treated right away to avoid further damage or reinfection. Try this temporary fix while waiting for emergency dental care. Stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity, but do not fix the tooth yourself to avoid damaging it. You can also place the restoration in a zip-top bag and bring it to your dentist’s clinic to reapply or be fitted with a new crown.
5. Broken orthodontics
Braces are tough — these metal wires and brackets are designed to withstand daily wear-and-tear with chewing, eating and even talking. But even then, they can break or stick out and poke your cheeks and gums. Not only does this cause discomfort, but it can slow down or even reverse progress in aligning and straightening teeth. When this happens, you can try pushing the broken wire into a more comfortable position. If this isn’t possible, cover the exposed end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball or a piece of gauze. No matter how bothersome, don’t cut the wire to avoid swallowing.
Infections in the mouth, especially near the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums, are serious. When untreated, these can spread to surrounding teeth and gum tissue, and even the rest of the body. Not sure if you have an abscess? Check your gums for a painful, pimple-like swollen spot. Rinse your mouth with a mild water solution and apply ice to the swollen area for temporary relief.
7. Bleeding and pain after a tooth extraction
It’s normal to experience some post-op pain and bleeding but if these persist even an hour later, it’s time to call your dentist. In the meantime, place a thick gauze pad over the extraction site, and apply pressure by biting down on the gauze. Avoid rinsing, drinking and eating, as well as sucking, spitting and smoking.
The Basics of Preventing a Dental Emergency
1. Use a mouthguard
Are you a sports fan? Show your love of the game but without risking your perfect smile. Avoid rough plays that injure your face and mouth, and chip or knock out a tooth. Wear a mouthguard before you head out to the court or field, and protect yourself fromdental emergencies.
2. Watch what and how you eat
Human teeth are strong, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to crack or chip a tooth. Hard candy and tough meats are just some of the ways otherwise strong, straight and beautiful teeth get broken. The best way to avoid this is to think before you bite. If you’re thinking of indulging your love of candy, don’t — it’s not worth the risk of chipping a tooth, on top of cavities from excessive sugar.
3. Don’t chew on anything else
Many people have oral fixations, such as biting their nails and chewing on pen caps and other items that aren’t food. But did you know that these bad habits can cause you to crack or chip your teeth? You can break these bad habits by keeping your hands busy and chew sugarless gum to redirect oral fixations, with the added bonus of stimulating saliva production and cleansing bacteria.