Dental emergencies can strike without warning: severe pain, a collision on the soccer field that results in the loss of a tooth, or even an automobile accident that causes broken teeth and lacerations in the mouth. The term “dental emergency” should be a good indication that these problems shouldn’t wait until the next time the office is open, but should be attended to promptly. Other dental emergencies include injuries to the gums, an abscess, swelling, and drainage from the mouth. Immediate care can help prevent the problem from getting worse.
Immediate action is necessary to save a tooth that has been knocked out. Keeping it moist is the first step, as it increases the chance that the tooth can be reattached. If the tooth fell on the ground, it should be rinsed with water; it should not be washed. If possible, the tooth should be gently placed in the socket without touching the root. It can also be held between cheek and gum or put in a container of milk. If available, a tooth preservation product approved by the American Dental Association can help keep the tooth moist and secure.
Until the dentist is available, strategies to relieve pain, prevent infection or further damage should be the first steps. A warm plain or salt water rinse can help keep the mouth clean, while cold compresses or an ice pack can help relieve discomfort and keep swelling down. A washcloth or similar protection should be placed between the patient’s skin and the ice; ice should not be applied directly to the skin. Gentle, direct pressure can slow or stop bleeding. Patients should be kept calm; children may need emotional support from parents, especially if there is any pain.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!