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Do I have a Dental Emergency? What Should I Do?

dental emergency patient

In dentistry, as in any other medical field, emergencies come up. These are issues that require immediate attention of a dentist. How do you know you have a dental emergency and not something that could wait? After all, you don’t want to wait for a long time and incur the unnecessary expense of an E.R. room visit if your incident doesn’t warrant immediate dental attention.

The situations that warrant dental emergencies are those that pose an immediate risk to your dental health. Severe pain of the mouth, nose and face can be signs of a dental emergency. The most common type of dental emergency is a knocked-out tooth. Here are the common dental emergency incidents and how you should go about treating them until a dental professional can take over:

Missing Filling

While a missing crown does not always constitute a dental emergency, a missing filling is another story. Fillings are cemented areas where tooth decay has destroyed the tooth. When this cement covering comes off, your tooth is sensitive and vulnerable to more decay and infection. When you notice a filling is missing, gently clean the surface of the tooth and temporarily cover it. Of all things, sugarless gum works well. Using regular, sugar-loaded gum will cause the tooth to be further irritated.

Knocked-Out Tooth

The most common dental emergency is a knocked-out tooth. Teeth that are lose or have been completely removed from their socket are big deals because if quick action isn’t done, the tooth will be lost. In fact, it has been shown that teeth that are re-attached to their sockets within an hour of getting knocked out have a significantly higher chance of being saved.

While you’re waiting for emergency dental attention, find the tooth and gently clean it off, holding it by the crown (the part that is exposed above the gum line). Try to place it back into the socket and gently bite down on a wet tea bag or moistened gauze. If it won’t easily go in, have the tooth soak in milk on your way to the dentist.

Cracked, Broken or Chipped Teeth

Saving your teeth is the utmost important. Even if your teeth aren’t knocked-out, but are broken, chipped or cracked, they require immediate dental attention. If your tooth broke, locate the missing part and clean both the part and the remained of your tooth. Bite down on a piece of damp gauze or wet tea bag. Soak the part in milk in-route to the dentist.

Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess is a painful indication of an infection in the root and pulp (center) of the tooth. Pain and swelling often accompany a tooth abscess. If a tooth abscess isn’t treated promptly, there is a risk that the infection can spread to other tissues of the mouth such as other teeth, the gums and jaw bone. Dental abscesses can also open the door for other health issues in other parts of the body. While waiting for dental attention, take over-the-counter pain medication (avoid Aspirin) and use a cold compress on the outside of the mouth over the affected area.

Dislocated, Fractured or Broken Jaw

Dislocated, fractured and broken jaws are dental emergencies because of the profuse bleeding that occurs and the effect of limiting the patient’s breathing. The symptoms of a jaw injury include:

  • Facial bruising, swelling or numbness.
  • Jaw stiffness, tenderness or pain that worsens with biting and chewing.
  • A bleeding mouth.
  • Damaged or loose teeth.
  • Signs of a Dislocated Jaw Include:
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Inability to close your mouth.
  • Misaligned bite or teeth or a protruding jaw.

While waiting for dental attention, it is important to stabilize the jaw to ensure an open airway for adequate breathing. This usually involves using your jaw as little as possible and keeping them shut. What to do-call the dentist, even if they are not open. Some have emergency numbers and instructions.

If you are not able to contact the dentist, go to the nearest E.R.

Misaligned bite or teeth or a protruding jaw. No matter what the dental emergency is, contact your dentist in Idaho Falls first, even if it is outside their regular business hours. Some dentists have an after-hours number for emergencies as well as instructions on what to do in case of an emergency.

If none of these are options, go to the nearest ER. At Family Dental Health, we’re committed to provide prompt treatment for your dental emergency so you can keep your smile. Contact us today to set up a routine cleaning or for emergency dental attention.