Tooth Triage: How to Handle 9 Common Dental Emergencies

tooth emergenciesby Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Whether they occur at the hand of a baseball bat, an auto accident, or poor dental habits, dental emergencies happen. We handle all sorts of tooth triage at Eggert Family Dentistry. Here are 9 of the most common dental emergencies we see in our office and immediate steps you can take to relieve pain and get your smile back.

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries

Jabs from metal braces or a misplaced bite can do damage to gums, cheeks, and your tongue. If you’re bleeding, rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution and apply pressure with gauze or a teabag for 30 minutes. A cold compress can also offer pain relief. If these measures don’t stop the bleeding, give us a call or go to the emergency room.

  1. Severe Toothaches

Resist the urge to put painkillers directly on the affected tooth, as this can cause burning of the gum tissue or tooth and even more pain. Instead, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress on the outside of your mouth. Then, call us to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

  1. Abscesses

If you have severe gum disease, tooth decay, or cracking, you may develop a painful infection called an abscess. Abscesses appear right along your gum line or at the tip of where your root would be. If left untreated, abscesses can spread infection to other parts of your body. A developing abscess often looks like a little pimple on your gums and can be painful. If you spot one, schedule your appointment with us and rinse your mouth with saltwater to alleviate any pain and draw the pus toward your gum’s surface.

  1. Lost Crown or Filling

You might be chowing down on that gooey brownie when you feel it happen—your filling or crown becomes dislodged. Call us to schedule an appointment to replace your crown or filling. In the meantime, if you’ve lost a filling and it is sharp to your tongue, you can place orthodontic wax or the temporary filling material you find at the drug store. If you’ve lost a crown, bring it along with you to your dental appointment. Sometimes we can re-use it! If you’re able, toothpaste and/or Vaseline can be used to temporarily place the crown on your tooth while you are at home. If you have pain, ibuprofen often helps or you can try clove oil, which can be a great pain reliever for teeth.

  1. Broken & Loose Braces

Wire braces are common culprits in dental emergencies. Broken wires and loose braces can poke and cut your gums, tongue, or cheeks, causing painful lacerations. If you’re unable to reposition the wire (the eraser end of a pencil is our favorite at-home tool for this), cover the wire with wax and schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to repair it. Never trim the wire—you could swallow it or breathe it into your lungs.

  1. Lodged Objects

Getting something stuck between your teeth is very uncomfortable. We recommend dental floss to try and dislodge stuck food or other objects. If floss doesn’t do the trick, call us. Don’t try to use something sharp to dislodge the stuck object, as you could injure your gums or your tooth’s enamel.

  1. Broken or Chipped Teeth

If you’ve taken a digger and chipped or broken a tooth, try to keep as many of the pieces as you can. Rinse your mouth to get any pieces left in your mouth, then apply gauze to stop any bleeding. A cold compress outside the mouth can relieve pain and reduce swelling. Then, see us right away to repair your tooth.

  1. Partially Dislodged Teeth

Partially dislodged or extruded teeth are hanging on by a thread and require immediate attention from us. Call ahead to let us know you’re coming, then get in the car with a cold compress against your mouth or cheek to reduce swelling. Take a pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil, it is best to get this on board early on.

  1. Knocked-Out Teeth

A knocked-out tooth is a true dental emergency. Call ahead to let us know you’re coming, but don’t delay in getting to our clinic. If we can return the tooth to its socket within an hour, it has a high chance of being saved. Take the tooth with you to our clinic.  If you can keep the tooth within your cheek without swallowing it, that is a great place for it. Otherwise, if you have to hold the tooth, do so by holding it by the part that’s visible in your mouth (not the root). If the tooth is dirty, it’s okay to rinse it gently with water, but don’t scrub it or remove any attached tissue. You can try to place the tooth back in its socket (make sure you have it the right way) and it is a good idea to try if it will be more than an hour before you are able to see us.

Dental emergencies are no fun, but most are treatable if you act quickly and don’t panic. You can rely on the Eggert Family Dentistry team for your tooth triage and recare needs. Contact our clinic today to schedule your appointment.

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