Help! I’ve Had a Dental Emergency!

No one enjoys being in an emergency situation, but dental accidents happen, and being prepared for them could mean the difference between keeping or losing a tooth. For all dental emergencies, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. While most dentists reserve time in their daily schedule for emergency patients, accidents sometimes happen when the office isn’t open. A trip to your local emergency room may be in order, but it’s also best to know what you can do to help get to the best possible outcome.

Here’s a look at some of the most common dental emergencies and how you can deal with them, according to the dental experts at MouthHealthy.org.

What do I do if I knock out my tooth?

If you accidentally knock out a permanent tooth, it’s imperative that you keep the tooth moist at all times If you are able, place the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, you can tuck the tooth between your cheek and gums, in a glass of milk, or use a tooth preservations product with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Then, get to your dental office as soon as possible.

What do I do if my child knocks out a tooth?

If it’s a baby tooth, the best thing to do is keep it moist and get to your dentist. That way, your dentist can see whether the whole tooth came out or just part of it. If it’s an adult tooth, follow the steps above.

What if I crack my tooth?

Immediately rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Place a cold compress on the face to keep any swelling down, and see your dentist as soon as possible.

How do I treat my tongue or lip if I bite it?

Clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. If there is excessive bleeding that won’t stop or if you are in a lot of pain, see your dentist or head to the emergency room.

How do I treat a toothache?

There are several old wive’s tales about this one, but the best solution is to rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out. Then, gently use dental floss to remove any food that may be caught between your teeth. DO NOT put aspirin on your aching tooth or gums. You could wind up burning the gum tissue. If the pain is persistent, contact your dentist.

What if I think my jaw is broken?

Apply a cold compress to control any swelling, and then visit your dentist or a hospital emergency department immediately.

How do I remove an object that’s stuck in my mouth or teeth?

Gently use dental floss to try to remove the stuck object. Do not try to remove it with a sharp or pointed instrument. The item might be painful or cause an infection, so if you cannot get it out, see your dentist for assistance.

Is there anything I should add to my first aid kit?

In order to be most prepared, it’s a good idea to have floss on hand. The Save-a-Tooth emergency tooth preservation kit may also be a smart addition in case you lose a tooth unexpectedly.

What happens if I need to see a dentist when I’m travelling?

Most insurance companies offer help with finding a provider, or you can use the ADA Find a Dentist tool to find an ADA member near you.

Can I avoid a dental emergency?

There are several simple precautions you can take to avoid an accident or injury to your teeth:

  • Wear a mouthguard when participating in recreational or sports activities.
  • Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy, all of which can crack a tooth.
  • NEVER use your teeth to cut or open things. Use scissors and common sense.

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