We do our very best to care for and protect our teeth; unfortunately, at some point, we may experience a dental emergency. This can happen to anyone, and can occur unexpectedly at any time. It is important to seek help from a professional in order to receive proper treatment and avoid future complications.
Below are some of the most common dental emergencies and some tips on how to handle them.
A toothache is the most common dental emergency, and it is usually a result of tooth decay, infection, a broken restoration, tooth fracture, or an object lodged inside the tooth causing inflammation or an abscess.
If you’re experiencing a toothache, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean out the tooth, and gently floss to remove any debris or food caught between the teeth. Do NOT put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissue – this may result in burning of the gums and cheek due to the acidic content of aspirin. Treatment may include antibiotics, a protective dental restoration, or other care, so call your dentist as soon as possible and schedule an appointment for an evaluation.
Broken, cracked, chipped teeth
Some of the causes of tooth fracture may be physical trauma, a weakened tooth, clenching, grinding or crunching things such as hard candy or ice. If your tooth is cracked or fractured – call your dentist immediately – delaying will only cause the risk of infection or loss of the tooth. In cases of trauma to front teeth, if possible, keep the broken piece of your tooth and bring it to the dentist’s office. If the fractured piece is large enough, sometimes it may be possible to bond it to the original tooth.
Knocked out tooth
Hold the tooth by the crown and avoid touching the root. If it’s dirty, rinse the root in water very gently. Don’t scrub or remove any attached tissue fragments. Keep the tooth moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If this is not possible, place in between your cheek / gums, in milk, in a cup of your saliva, or use a special tooth preservation product. You need to get to the dentist’s office right away for the best chances of re-implanting the tooth.
Over time, fillings may get loose, fracture, or fall out. It is important to fill the resulting cavity as soon as possible in order to avoid tooth decay and infection. You may purchase a temporary, over the counter, tooth filling material from a drug store, but make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to definitively restore the tooth.