Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 28-05-2020
Like most offices, dentists accept patients from Monday to Friday, and most offices usually remain open during daytime business hours. Unfortunately, this means that you may not have access to a dental professional at all hours of the day for emergencies.
As the name suggests, emergencies are unpredictable, and although they aren’t planned or scheduled, they can certainly be planned for. Our teeth and gums are no exception to these emergencies, and any injuries or other dental problems you sustain to your gums or teeth should never be ignored.
If dental emergencies are not looked after immediately, they can worsen and cause permanent damage. In some cases, ignoring an oral problem could result in the need for more extensive and costly treatments down the road.
Dental emergencies can certainly sneak up on you, and you may find yourself trying to figure out how to handle the situation. A medical emergency is usually a no brainer, and people know to call an ambulance right away or perform some first aid or CPR on their own.
When it comes to dental emergencies, people may be confused about the first step to take. If you find yourself with a dental emergency on your hands, you usually have two options, including going to the emergency room, or managing and caring for the injury at home on your own until you can see a dentist.
If the dental emergency is very severe, you should head straight to the emergency. If the situation isn’t very serious, you can usually tend to your injury at home until you can see a dentist.
If you’re completely unfamiliar with how to care for your dental problem at home, there’s no need to fear; we’re here to provide some common dental emergencies and simple ways to manage your problem until you can seek professional help.
A toothache can be a very unpleasant experience and could result from several reasons. Toothaches can become very painful, so you shouldn’t prolong visiting the dentist. To help manage a toothache at home, use warm water to rinse out your mouth, and take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help decrease the pain. In some cases, toothaches can also cause swelling, which can be managed by applying a cold compress to the outside of your cheek or mouth.
Chipped, Cracked, or Broken Teeth
When you crack a tooth, the first thing you should do is use warm water to rinse out your mouth and make sure that the affected area is clean. Save all the pieces of your cracked tooth by placing them in a solution of milk or saltwater and take them with you when you can see a dentist.
A cracked tooth can cause a bit of swelling in your mouth, which can be managed with the help of a cold compress against your face. Gauze should be applied to stop the bleeding. A cracked tooth can quickly escalate and become a severe problem, so make sure you seek professional help as soon as you can.
If your tooth has been knocked out, try to hold it in the socket if possible or wrap the tooth in a damp clean piece of gauze and take it with you when you see the dentist. Rinse the tooth first before wrapping it and refrain from scrubbing it.
The sooner you are able to see a dentist, the better the chance of re-implanting and saving your original tooth. To help decrease the bleeding and facilitate clotting, use a moistened tea bag to bite down on.
Bleeding from the Mouth
Bleeding from the mouth is not a normal occurrence as your mouth is very good at managing any bleeding due to cuts. Bleeding from the mouth can be indicative of an acute or a chronic condition.
If you experience bleeding from your mouth after you brush or use dental floss, this could be a sign of gum disease. Alternatively, if your saliva contains blood, it could be a more serious sign of either severe gum disease or even cancer. A little blood in your mouth following a dental procedure such as a tooth extraction is normal. Still, if the bleeding continues for a prolonged time, then you should return to the dentist immediately for treatment.
If you experience some light bleeding, keep your head elevated at home until it stops, however, if the bleeding is excessive, visit the emergency room if a dentist isn’t available.
An abscess is an infection that occurs in the space between your teeth and gums. An abscess is full of pus, which forms when your gums begin to form pockets due to gum disease. An abscess should be treated as soon as possible so that the infection doesn’t spread to surrounding tissue or other areas of the body.
Until you are able to seek professional help for your abscess, use a saltwater solution to rinse out your mouth several times. This rinsing will help draw the pus out of the abscess and decrease the pain you may be experiencing.
Injury to Soft Tissues
Soft tissues in and around your mouth include your gums, lips, tongue, and cheeks. If you sustain an injury to any of these soft tissues and experience bleeding, you can take a few steps to help manage it.
To help control the bleeding, use salt water to rinse out your mouth, and use gauze or a moistened tea bag to apply pressure to the affected area and hold it in place until the bleeding stops.
Alternatively, you could apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek or mouth to help decrease the pain and help manage the bleeding. If the bleeding continues, visit the emergency room and continue to hold the gauze in place until someone can attend to the bleeding.
Lost Filling or Crown
If you’ve lost a filling, it can become painful if the tooth is not treated, so to provide a temporary covering at home, place a piece of sugarless gum on top of the cavity. Alternatively, you could purchase an over-the-counter dental cement to put in place of the filling temporarily.
If your crown comes off your tooth, save the crown so you can take it with you when you are able to see the dentist. If the crown comes off your tooth, you could apply clove oil to the affected area using a cotton swab to help decrease the pain. A denture adhesive or over-the-counter dental cement can be used to place a temporary crown on top of your tooth until you can see the dentist.
Broken or Loose Braces
If one of your bands or brackets comes loose, make sure you hold on to them and take them with you when you go and see your orthodontist. Your loose braces can be temporarily reattached with the help of some orthodontic wax, or the wax can be placed overtop of your braces.
If you experience a broken wire or brace in your mouth that’s sticking out and poking inside of your mouth, you can simply push the wire into a comfortable position with the help of the blunt end of a pencil. If adjusting the wire isn’t a possibility, orthodontic wax can be used to cover the wire temporarily.
Injury to your Tongue or Lips
Even a small cut on the tongue can appear to be bleeding significantly. If it’s a small cut, your tongue will be able to heal on its own. If you bruise or cut your lips, you can apply a cold compress on the affected area to help decrease the swelling and pain. If the cut is very deep or long, you will need to visit the emergency room — especially if the bleeding is excessive and doesn’t stop.
Your oral health is a key element of your overall health and should be maintained as best as possible. Poor oral health can have many negative effects on the health of your body and the quality of your life. Don’t allow missing teeth, and oral infections affect your appearance, speech, and confidence.
Taking care of dental emergencies as soon as they occur is the best way to avoid costly and extensive treatments or permanent damage down the road. Part of handling a dental emergency is the initial steps taken at home to help manage pain, swelling, or bleeding before you can see a dentist. The steps you take at home to help manage the emergency until professional help is available can greatly determine the success of your recovery.
When faced with a dental emergency, remember to take a deep breath, assess the situation, salvage, and store your tooth if it’s been knocked out. Contact your dentist to try and book an appointment as soon as possible and follow all instructions they provide for home care.
At Milltown Dental, we understand that emergencies can happen without warning, and the best way to deal with them is to remain calm and prepared. Use simple home remedies to manage the situation and contact us as soon as you can to help book your appointment, and our highly experienced dental professionals will help you treat your dental emergency as soon as possible.
If you would like to learn more about what to do if you can’t see your dentist, call Milltown Dental today at 905-878-8528 or contact us here.