Young female with a cavity suffering from discomfort during dental hygiene routine

Dental emergencies happen when you least expect them, causing discomfort and panic. Every year in the U.S., an estimated two million visits to hospital emergency departments are for dental pain, highlighting just how common and urgent these situations are.

Understanding how to respond to a dental emergency can make a huge difference in managing the discomfort and potentially saving a tooth. Whether it’s a knocked-out tooth, a broken crown, or sudden severe pain, being prepared can help alleviate pain and prevent future complications.

Common Dental Emergencies and How to Handle Them

From severe toothaches to chipped or knocked-out teeth, dental crises require prompt action. Here’s a quick guide to understanding some of the most common dental emergencies and the best immediate actions.

1. Toothaches

A toothache can occur suddenly and cause debilitating pain. To alleviate discomfort, start by rinsing your mouth with warm water to clean it, then gently floss between your teeth to remove any trapped food.

If you experience swelling, place a cold compress outside your cheek. Leave it on intermittently for 15 minutes on and off. Avoid putting aspirin or other painkillers onto the gums next to the affected tooth, as this may burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, contact your dentist immediately.

2. Chipped or Broken Teeth

If you have a chipped or broken tooth, try to save any pieces of the tooth that have broken off. Depending on the severity of the break, your dentist can sometimes reattach these fragments.

Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area and remove any debris that may cause irritation or infection. This will also help soothe the affected area. If you’ve recovered any pieces of your tooth, carefully rinse them in warm water.

If bleeding, apply sterile gauze to the affected area. Press firmly but gently for 10 to 15 minutes or until the bleeding stops. If bleeding persists, seek immediate dental care.

3. Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency that requires quick thinking and immediate action to increase the chances of saving the tooth. If you or someone else has had a tooth knocked out, handle the tooth carefully.

To minimize damage, always hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), not by the root. If the root is covered in dirt, carefully rinse it with fresh water, but avoid removing or scrubbing any tissue attached to the tooth, as this can reduce the likelihood of successful reimplantation.

If possible, try to re-insert the tooth into its socket. If you can’t, keep the tooth moist by placing it in a small container of milk or water if milk isn’t available. Remember, the sooner you get to a dentist, the better the likelihood of saving the tooth.

4. Lost Filling or Crown

Losing a dental filling or crown can be unsettling, but quick action can help prevent further damage and discomfort. If a filling falls out, you can temporarily fill the gap with a piece of sugarless gum or use over-the-counter dental cement to seal the cavity.

If a dental crown is dislodged, keep it safe and contact your dentist for a professional reattachment. Before you can see the dentist, over-the-counter dental cement, denture adhesive, or even toothpaste can temporarily secure the crown. Never, under any circumstances, use super glue.

5. Abscess

Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. They are a severe condition that can damage the gum, bone tissue, and surrounding teeth. If left untreated, the infection may spread throughout the body.

Contact your dentist immediately if you notice a swelling on your gums similar to a pimple. In the meantime, rinse your mouth with dilute salt water several times daily to reduce the pain and draw out the pus.

When to See a Dentist

In all dental emergencies, consult your dentist as soon as possible. Most dentists offer emergency services and will accommodate you quickly, especially in cases of severe pain or a high risk of infection. If your regular dentist is unavailable, consider attending an emergency dental clinic or the emergency room.

Be Prepared: Managing Dental Emergencies with Confidence

Handling dental emergencies promptly minimizes pain and prevents further damage. Familiarizing yourself with basic first aid for dental emergencies can help you remain calm and take the right actions when faced with a dental crisis.

If you experience a dental emergency, contact Valley Dental Care of Plainfield for advice and an appointment.

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