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Dental emergencies can be a frightening and painful experience. It’s extremely important that you not ignore a dental problem. Ignoring the problem will only increase the likelihood of permanent damage as well as the risk of needing extensive, and expensive, treatment. It’s not uncommon, however, for someone to be unsure about what counts as an emergency, what they can do to alleviate the issue or what to do if they have an emergency in the middle of the night. The goal of this article is help you determine the best way to handle any dental emergencies you may have.
Examples of Non-Urgent Dental Emergencies
The fear you are experiencing may make you feel otherwise, but some dental emergencies are not urgent and can wait to be treated. While it isn’t imperative to be seen immediately, it is still recommended that you see your dentist as soon as possible if you have any of the following issues.
- A dull toothache.
- A broken or cracked tooth as long as it isn’t accompanied by severe pain.
- Food that is lodged between the teeth.
- A lost filling, crown or bridge.
- Your retainer or night guard is broken or damaged.
Examples of Urgent Dental Emergencies
Urgent dental emergencies have to be taken care of right away. It’s absolutely necessary that you contact your dentist immediately if you are experiencing any of these problems.
- A permanent tooth that is loose or completely dislodged.
- A toothache that is extremely painful.
- An injured jaw.
- Painful swelling.
- You have bleeding that will not stop.
What You Can Do At Home
There are some things you can do at home to help remedy the situation and manage your pain depending on the emergency you are having. The best thing you can do for yourself is to remain calm. Oftentimes, stress can cause the issue and symptoms you are having to become worse.
Aches, pains and swelling can usually be alleviated quite easily. The first thing you should do is mix a solution of hot water and salt, then use this as a warm mouthwash. If you’re feeling pain around one tooth you should inspect the area for any food or objects that may be lodged there. Usually dental floss can be used to remove whatever is stuck between teeth. Should the floss not work, see your dentist as soon as possible. Please, never attempt to dislodge anything from teeth with a needle or other sharp object.
A cold compress is another option to help reduce pain and swelling. Over the counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol or Aspirin, can also be taken of course. Do not crush and apply the pain reliever directly to gum as this could potentially burn the gum tissue. You can, however, apply clove oil to the sensitive area and it will help alleviate the tooth pain. Clove oil can usually be found at your local health foods or drug store. Keep in mind that if your gum tissue is swollen due to an infection, it is best to go to the emergency room for antibiotics. Your dentist is not able to perform any work while the gums are infected.
Some dental emergencies require fast action on your part. If you have a permanent tooth that has been knocked out, you should retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown and rinse the root under warm water. If there is any tissue remaining, do not scrub it off. You should never force a tooth into the socket, but if possible, attempt to put the tooth back into place. If it is not possible, you can put the tooth in a small glass of milk, or even in your cheek, until you are able to see the dentist.
Should you have a crown fall off, you can try to temporarily hold it in place with dental cement. Dental cement can also be used to fill a cavity if you have lost a filling.
Dental Emergencies in the Middle of the Night
Your dentist is obviously going to be your first point of contact if a situation arises. Unfortunately, dental emergencies don’t always occur during office hours. If you’re having a dental emergency in the middle of the night the first thing you should do is to still call the dental office. There will likely be a recording that will provide you with instructions for obtaining after hours emergency care or an on-call substitute. You can also locate 24 hour emergency dental care clinics by searching in the phonebook or online. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to be seen by a dentist in the middle of the night, and require medical attention, you should go to the nearest emergency room. They may not be able to treat all dental emergencies, but you will at least have your pain and discomfort managed.
Some dental emergencies do not require immediate attention, but they should all be taken seriously. Everybody should be equipped with the knowledge of how to handle a dental emergency when one occurs.