Emergency Dental Tips Leading up to the Emergency Appointment
If you are confronted with a dental emergency, the first thing to do is try not to panic. Easier said than done but keeping calm and taking some simple measures ahead of your emergency appointment can help you get through the unfortunate experience by making it less of an ordeal.
In most cases, dental crises are far less severe than other medical emergencies and pain is generally the issue, rather than a serious threat to your health. Nevertheless, you should still call your dentist straight away: dental emergencies require prompt professional treatment to avoid the risk of irreparable damage.
Dentists perform emergency treatment to provide temporary relief in cases of swelling or acute pain and facial injury that has impacted teeth.
Depending on your emergency, you could:
- Be given prescription antibiotics and pain relief.
- Have a tooth extracted.
- Have a provisional dressing applied to a tooth.
- Be referred to a specialist healthcare service.
Whatever urgent treatment you get, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll need a follow-up appointment.
By definition, you never know when you’ll suffer a sudden dental predicament, so we’ve compiled 12 top tips to help you leading up to your emergency appointment.
What Should I Do in a Dental Emergency?
Although you need to see a dentist as soon as possible in a dental emergency, there are certain steps you can take to temporarily ease your discomfort. Here, we’ll look at some of the most common dental crises, and what you can do about them.
1. Sudden Toothache
Call your dentist and explain the symptoms. Relieving toothache is all about controlling the swelling, so take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkiller like aspirin or ibuprofen. Rinse your mouth with warm water and hold an icepack to your face. Don’t use a hot-water bottle or other sources of heat: this will make things worse. You could also try to floss around the tooth gently to dislodge any food debris that may have accumulated.
2. Tooth is Knocked Out
Keep the tooth but handle it by the crown, not the root, which would damage the tissue that aids reimplantation. If you can’t put it back in place (without forcing it), put it in a small container of milk, or a cup of water with a pinch of salt. The best chance of saving your tooth is if it’s reinserted by a dentist within one hour.
3. Facial swelling
Severe swelling of the face indicates serious infection – of a tooth, gums or bone – that can affect other parts of your body, including vital organs. You need to see a dentist immediately. If you have to wait sometime for your emergency appointment, avoid lying down and take on plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, which would increase the risk of further complications.
4. Something Gets Stuck Between Your Teeth
When something gets lodged between your teeth – a poppy seed, for instance – it can prompt a foreign-body reaction from your immune system that results in inflammation. Use dental floss or a flossing stick to try to remove the object. Don’t use a sharp instrument to try to pry the object out: this can damage your teeth and gums.
5. Bleeding from the Mouth
Blood in your saliva could be a sign of a serious medical condition or an advanced stage of gum disease (periodontitis). See a periodontal specialist as soon as you can. They will be able to determine whether the underlying problem is in your gums or a symptom of another disease.
6. Tongue Injury
The tongue is fairly robust but when injured, it can swell and be painful and may also bleed a lot. If you badly bite or burn your tongue, these injuries can become infected. Try to see a dentist the same day. Suck on an ice cube while waiting for your appointment. To minimize bleeding, pack gauze onto the area and put pressure on it.
7. Broken or Dislodged Tooth
Use warm water to rinse your mouth. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, use gauze to staunch any bleeding, and take over-the-counter pain relief.
8. Filling Falls Out
Sugarless gum or an over-the-counter dental adhesive can provide a temporary measure to replace a lost filling.
9. Crown Falls Out
Save the crown for your dentist. If the tooth is painful, apply a small amount of clove oil to the affected area. Try to put the crown back in place, using toothpaste to coat the inner surface to act as an adhesive. Never use superglue.
10. Broken Braces
If a wire breaks or protrudes from a brace, try pushing it into a more comfortable position with the rubber end of a pencil. If you can’t relocate it, put dental wax or a piece of gauze over the end. Don’t cut the wire – you could swallow it.
11. Loose Braces
Loose braces can be temporarily reattached with dental wax. Or you can apply wax over the braces to act as a cushion. If the issue is a loose band, save it for your dentist to re-cement or replace it.
An abscess is a serious issue that affects the root of a tooth or between the gums and teeth. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body. There’s little you can do other than see a dentist as soon as possible, apart from brushing and flossing the area as normal. Don’t try to pop the abscess.
Who’s the Best Dental Professional to Handle My Emergency?
The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) says the best person to handle a dental crisis is your regular dentist. So you might want to check that your current dental practice is equipped to handle urgent situations out of normal office hours.
You can help to avoid dental emergencies by:
- Maintaining good oral hygiene and getting regular dental check-ups.
- Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports.
- Wearing a seatbelt in a car.