Common Dental Emergencies and Their Action Plans
Dental emergencies can happen in an instant, and they can be quite scary. But, if you stay calm and take the right immediate actions, almost any dental emergency can be fully treated to get your mouth back to normal and restore your smile.
The most important thing to do when experiencing a dental emergency is to try not to panic and contact your emergency dentist as soon as possible. If you panic, you might not realize what needs to be done, and you risk further damage and complications.
To prepare yourself for a dental emergency, familiarize yourself with the most common ones and the steps you should take to fix them, so you’ll know exactly what to do if any of these scenarios ever happen to you.
Knocked Out Tooth
A knocked-out tooth is one of the most common dental emergencies people experience. If this happens to you, pick the tooth up by the crown (the top part that sticks out of your gums), NOT by the root.
If you pick the tooth up by the root, you could damage the root cells, and it’s less likely that the tooth will re-embed itself back in your gums.
While carefully holding your knocked-out tooth by the crown, gently rinse it to wash off any dirt or debris it may have picked up from the ground or another surface.
After rinsing the tooth, try to put it in the hole it fell out of (making sure to put it root-side-down). If you do this immediately, there’s a better chance that the tooth will naturally reattach itself.
If the tooth is loose in the hole, put a clean handkerchief, napkin, or some other type of fabric in your mouth and bite it gently to help hold the tooth in place.
It’s important to note that you should never try to put a knocked-out baby tooth back in because you could damage the growing adult tooth. If your child gets a baby tooth knocked out, take them to the dentist as soon as possible.
If you can’t put your knocked-out tooth back in place, fill a small container or cup with milk and put the tooth in so it’s fully submerged. The milk can preserve your tooth’s root cells for approximately 30 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get to an emergency dentist who can put it back in for you.
Do NOT use tap water or any other liquid to keep the tooth moist — the root surface cells can’t tolerate it for extended periods.
Whether you were able to put the tooth in your mouth or some milk, the next step is to go to the dentist immediately. Your emergency dentist will ensure that your tooth is back in the proper position and splint it until the roots reattach to the socket.
Cracked Crowns and Fillings
If you think you have a cracked crown or filling, inspect it closely to assess the damage.
For crowns, determine if the crown is still there or has fallen off. If it looks like it has fallen off, look around the area and try to find it so you can take it to the dentist.
Check for jagged edges for cracked fillings and crowns to see if your tongue or cheeks are at risk of getting cut, and be very careful if you notice any.
If you’re experiencing severe pain, your tooth’s root could be exposed because of the cracked crown or filling.
After you’ve assessed the damage and taken any necessary precautions, contact your dentist’s office and explain the situation. They’ll be able to determine how urgent the issue is and schedule an appointment to fill in and repair the cracks.
The dentist may see you immediately to repair the cracks if you’re experiencing extreme sensitivity and pain or if sharp edges could hurt other parts of your mouth.
Note that this process applies to other types of tooth trauma, including chipped, cracked, and broken teeth.
Bitten Lip or Tongue
A bitten lip or tongue can happen at any moment. If it occurs, you should rinse your mouth with water to get a better look at the injury.
If you’re bleeding a lot, apply a clean cloth or gauze with pressure to help stop it. If swelling happens, apply a cold pack to the outside of your mouth.
In most cases, a bitten tongue or lip is not a severe injury, and it will heal on its own. However, if the bleeding doesn’t stop or you notice any severe deformities where the bite occurred, contact your dentist or go to an emergency room for immediate care.
Oral infections can occur after dental surgery and should be checked by a professional immediately to avoid further complications.
If you have prolonged pain after any oral surgery, contact your dentist immediately and assess it promptly to determine the cause and the proper treatment.
For example, excessive pain after having your wisdom teeth removed could be a symptom of an infection, a sign of a dry socket, or improper healing. These problems have different treatments, so they must be checked quickly to resolve the issues correctly.
In most cases, oral infections can be cured with antibiotics or other simple treatments, which the dentist will explain. However, infections can spread and worsen if left untreated, and more complicated procedures may be required to fix them.
Emergency Dental Care with Lee Simon
Doctor Lee Simon is here to help you with all your dental emergencies.
If you’re experiencing a dental emergency right now, there is no time to wait — contact us immediately for compassionate emergency dental care.