Ever wondered what you should do if you have a dental emergency? Whether it’s a holiday, a weekend, or just after hours, you may find yourself in sudden need of a dentist at a less than convenient time. If something with your smile does go wrong, what should you do? At South Charlotte Dentistry, we have the tips to keep you covered.
What if I crack a tooth?
Hard foods like nuts, candy, ice, or carrots can really damage your teeth if they are bitten into the wrong way. Ripping into a tough-to-open package with your teeth, prying open a bottle cap with your mouth, or some horseplay on the basketball court can all lead to chipped and cracked teeth.
Your teeth certainly are some of the strongest bones in your body, but they aren’t indestructible! Are chipped and cracked teeth worth an emergency trip to the dentist?
See your dentist as soon as possible after a tooth is chipped to keep it from worsening. While you wait to get to the dentist manage the symptoms from home in the following ways:
- Keep your mouth clean by rinsing with warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt
- Use a cold compress against the cheek to reduce swelling
- Take over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen
Left untreated, a cracked tooth can cause more pain over time or face further complications, like infection or tooth loss. If you believe you have an infection or the pain is unmanageable, seek dental treatment immediately.
What if I lose a tooth, have a tooth knocked, or worse?
The old saying about having a glass of milk on hand for a lost tooth is true. If a tooth is knocked out, place it in a glass of milk until you can get to the dentist. Milk’s chemical makeup is compatible with teeth, meaning it will temporarily preserve a tooth. Losing a tooth is considered a dental emergency meaning if you don’t act quickly, the tooth could be lost.
If a tooth falls out, handle the tooth with care (especially around the roots, which are very fragile), and apply a gauze with cold water to the gums if there is bleeding. If the individual who lost the tooth is old enough not to swallow the tooth, carefully and gently place the tooth back into the socket. This is the best place to preserve the tooth on the way to your emergency dental visit.
Teeth have the best chance of survival if replaced within 30 minutes, and there are higher chances of tooth-survival among children. Call your dentist as quickly as possible, who will accommodate dental emergencies with the proper procedures to save the tooth.
What constitutes a dental emergency vs. medical emergency?
It’s important to know when to go straight to the emergency room, rather than trying to contact your dentist.
Cases where it is not imperative that you are seen by a dentist right away, or non-urgent dental issues, include:
- Lost-filling, crown, or bridge
- Broken/cracked tooth (unless there is severe pain)
- Food lodged between teeth
- Dull toothache
The following are examples of dental emergencies:
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- A loose/knocked out permanent tooth
- Injured jaw
- Painful swelling
- Painful toothache
If you are experiencing a dental issue or dental emergencies, always try calling your regular dentist or even other local dentists before pursuing alternative care options. They may be able to provide you with after-hours emergency care or a recommendation you can pursue from home.
Medical emergencies and dental trauma involve the face and mouth that require immediate medical attention; do not wait to call your dentist. Call 911 or go to the emergency hospital room. These involve:
- Jaw fractures
- Jaw dislocations
- Serious cuts or lacerations to the face and mouth
- Abscess/infection so swollen that it’s affecting breathing and swelling
Inquire about your dentist’s after-hours policies are well before you need them, so that you’re not scrambling quite so much during an emergency. There’s no such thing as a bad question, especially when it comes to planning ahead. Give us a call at 704.759.0908, and remember that the best way to prevent a dental emergency is to attend your regular check-ups and address any problems before they turn into an emergency.