A dental injury is alarming. But, knowing what to do in the event of a dental emergency can help you avoid disaster and save your smile from irreparable damage.
If you are currently handling a serious dental emergency, then contact our dentist or call 911 for further instructions.
However, if bleeding, swelling, and pain are relatively controlled, then keep reading. In this post, we tell you three ways to treat a dental injury before you can see an emergency dentist in your area.
First and Foremost – Remain Calm
Regardless of the injury, it is best to remain calm. Panicking can release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, which can elevate blood pressure levels by more than 27 mm Hg. This may worsen a dental injury, as high blood pressure can increase bleeding, swelling, and pain.
So, the first step in treating a dental injury is to stay calm and assess the situation.
After Assessing the Situation, It’s time to Take Action.
Below, we tell you how to handle three, common dental injuries.
1. A Knocked-Out (Avulsed) Tooth
High-impact sports, car accidents, and unfortunate mishaps may result in an avulsed tooth. While it is scary to lose a permanent tooth, a skilled dentist may be able to save it, but only if you act swiftly.
Here are helpful ways to protect a knocked-out tooth before you can see a qualified dentist:
Don’t touch the roots: The roots (or bottom) of teeth contain important cells. These cells must be kept healthy and alive to ensure proper reinsertion. So, only handle avulsed teeth by the cusp (or top).
Keep it clean: Dirt and bacteria may damage the cells on tooth roots, making reattachment more difficult. Therefore, if the tooth falls from the mouth and onto the ground, then gently pick it up by the cusp and rinse it in clean water.
Store it safely: Whether intact or avulsed, teeth require moisture. The mouth offers constant moisture, so placing the tooth back into its socket is ideal. However, that may prove too painful for some patients. If that’s the case, then dentists recommend storing the tooth in the side of the cheek or gently placing it in a glass of saline, water, or milk.
To keep bleeding under control, try applying light pressure to the area with clean gauze pads. Avoid painkillers at this time, as they may thin the blood and make bleeding worse.
2. A Loose, Missing, or Broken Dental Restoration
Dental restorations may include:
- Dental fillings
- Dental crowns
- Dental bridges
Typically, these restorations are remarkably secure in the mouth. However, external factors (like trauma or excessively hard or sticky foods) can loosen, damage, or dislodge them. Loose restorations are a choking hazard, while broken or missing restorations may expose nerve-dense areas on vulnerable teeth, which may result in significant pain.
Here’s what to do if you have a loose, missing, or broken dental restoration:
Leave it alone: If the restoration is loose but still intact, then leave it alone. A dentist may be able to secure it without completely removing it.
Keep it safe: If a restoration falls off, then hold on to it and bring it with you to your emergency dental appointment. A dentist may be able to reuse the restoration if it is still in good shape.
Protect your mouth: A broken dental restoration may have sharp edges that can injure the lips, cheeks, and tongue. Protect your mouth by placing dental wax or sugar-free chewing gum over sharp edges.
Over-the-counter painkillers and cold compresses can mitigate pain and swelling until you can see an emergency dentist.
3. A Broken or Cracked Tooth
A broken or cracked tooth can be extremely painful. Not only that, but sharp or jagged edges can pose a serious risk to surrounding oral tissues.
Here’s what to do if you have a broken or cracked tooth:
Remove and save any pieces: If there are loose pieces of the broken tooth in your mouth, then carefully remove them. Store any pieces in a saline solution, water, or milk to keep them healthy until your emergency dental appointment. Even if a dentist cannot reattach the missing pieces, they may use them as a guide to fully restore your tooth.
Keep your mouth clean: Germs can find their way into a broken or cracked tooth, which can cause a painful tooth infection. Avoid infections by gently rinsing the mouth with a warm saltwater solution to keep microbes at bay.
Cover sharp edges: Jagged edges can easily slice into soft oral tissues. Cover sharp edges with dental wax or sugarless gum to protect your lips, cheeks, and tongue.
You can control bleeding with light pressure applied to clean gauze pads or cotton balls. If bleeding is present, avoid painkillers until instructed otherwise.
Get Emergency Dental Care
After triaging your dental injury, it’s time to contact our emergency dental team. Acting now could end up saving your smile, health, and pocketbook from further damage.