Your Dentist Explains How to Identify and Treat Dental Emergencies

Do you ever get toothaches during the day but aren’t sure if it warrants a trip to the dentist? Has your dental restoration become loose and you aren’t sure what to do? Your dentist understands that dental emergencies aren’t always so cut and dry. That’s why she’s prepared to help patients identify them, as well as give the next best steps to take.

Each scenario should start with contacting your dentist. After scheduling an appointment, here’s what you should do next.


Identifying a Dental Emergency

If you’re experiencing any of the following situations, you’re having a dental emergency. They include:


Knocked-Out (Avulsed), Cracked, or Fractured Teeth

Start by picking up the tooth by the crown (top) only. Avoid touching the root or removing any residual tissue that’s attached. Touching it will only reduce your chances of successful reimplantation later.

The best place to keep the tooth preserved is back in your socket. After gently rinsing the crown, attempt to place it back into the socket facing the way it was originally. If this is not possible, place the tooth into a container of milk, saliva, or saltwater to preserve it. If you can’t get to your dentist at that moment, get to the emergency room within the next hour.

Teeth that have been significantly broken or fractured need to be addressed by a dentist right away, especially if the crack extends below the gumline. This only puts the pulp at risk of infection and the chances of needing an extraction much higher. Until your visit, avoid chewing food on the damaged side of your mouth, take painkillers, and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.


Severe Toothache

Toothaches could be a sign of decay, a cavity, infection, an abscess, or gum disease, but you won’t know until you visit your dentist. After scheduling an appointment, control any pain and swelling through over-the-counter medication and by applying a cold compress to your face in 20 minute intervals (i.e. 20 minutes on and 20 off.) Take Advil three times a day (no more than 600 mg a day) for the next three days if you can’t get to your dentist right away.


Loose or Knocked-Out Restorations

A filling or dental crown that’s loose or been knocked-out completely puts your remaining tooth at risk of infection. After locating the restoration, call the dentist. If a filling has fallen out, apply clove oil to the affected area for pain relief. Avoid chewing food on the side of your mouth where the filling or crown was.

You can also purchase a dental cement from any common drugstore to reseat the filling or crown, but this is only a temporary solution. You can also use denture adhesive or petroleum jelly if necessary. Avoid using household glues.

With these steps in mind, you’ll be better equipped to handle dental emergencies before your visit. If you’re having a dental emergency, schedule an appointment today!


About the Author

Dr. Melody Zamora earned her dental degree from the Oregon Health & Science University. She’s dedicated to getting patients the emergency care they need and getting their smile back to normal. To learn more about the practice, contact her through her website.

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