8 Dental Emergencies and How to Handle Them

First aid kit

A dentist is a specialist in oral health and hygiene and can help you best protect your smile. Your dental professional can offer tips on something as simple as daily oral care or something as complex as alternative techniques for dental implants. While many people visit the dentist for cosmetic purposes and have questions about teeth whitening or improving their smile, maintaining the best overall oral health possible is a top priority for everyone. You never know when a dental emergency might strike so it is helpful to know how to handle any of the following dental emergencies.

1. Lost or Cracked Teeth

Losing a tooth can be incredibly traumatic. A lost tooth can be caused by a number of things such as poor oral hygiene, lack of proper nutrition, grinding or forcible trauma. If you lose an adult tooth, the first thing you need to do is stay calm. If you are able to locate the tooth, carefully pick it up by the crown. Don’t touch the root as you may accidentally remove valuable tissue. If the tooth looks dirty, gently rinse it in sterile saline or milk. Try to place the tooth back in the socket and while holding it in place seek dental treatment immediately. If you are unable to place the tooth back in the socket, put it in a glass of milk or sterile saline. Take it with you to the dentist. If you can get to the dentist within an hour of losing the tooth, there is a possibility is can be reattached. The longer it takes you to get medical attention, the less likely it is that your tooth can be saved.

Cracked teeth can vary dramatically in severity. If you have pain when releasing your bite while eating, you may have a cracked tooth. Another indication is extreme sensitivity to hot or cold. There is little you can do at home in the way of treatment. Your best bet is to see your dentist immediately.

2.  Abscess

A tooth abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. Abscesses can occur at different locations around the tooth depending on the location of the infection.  Symptoms of an abscess can include fever, swelling, persistent swollen pain and swollen lymph nodes. If you have an abscess, you need medical treatment as soon as possible. Your dentist may drain the area and/or prescribe antibiotics. Depending on the infection your dental professional may also need to perform a root canal or remove the tooth.

3. Chipped or Broken Teeth

You may notice immediately when you chip or break a tooth. However, this could also be a result of long-term erosion due to cavities or tooth damage. If you chip or break a tooth, you may have a sharp, jagged edge to contend with. Use paraffin wax or sugarless chewing gum to cover the edge to prevent further damage.

4. Lost or Damaged Retainer

Retainers are used to maintain the alignment of a patient’s teeth after braces or Invisalign are discontinued. While a lost or damaged retainer may not seem like a dental emergency, it is important to take care of this in a timely manner. When you lose, damage or simply don’t wear your retainer, your teeth can shift back to their original positions. If you want to keep this from happening, get your retainer replaced as quickly as possible.

5. Food Stuck in Your Teeth

The corner of a potato chip stuck between two teeth can be aggravating and painful. Don’t use a toothpick or other sharp object to try to remove stubborn food. You can easily cause gum damage with a slip of your hand. Instead, gently swish with warm water and use dental floss to try to remove the stubborn piece of food.

6. A Lost Filling

Fillings can deteriorate over time. If you lose a filling unexpectedly, there are some steps you can take to buy time until you can get to the dentist. That being said, don’t delay visiting your dental professional as you may damage the remaining tooth. If you still have the filling, you can use dental cement to reposition the filling. If you can’t find the filling, you can use the dental cement to cover the tooth to try to protect it from further damage.

7. Broken Denture

If you suffer a broken denture you have temporary options available. There are denture repair kits sold over the counter at drugstores. Some people may recommend using superglue to re-adhere a tooth to a set of dentures. We don’t encourage this, as superglue is not safe to ingest and you are placing your dentures in your mouth. Ultimately, your best bet is to take your dentures to your dentist for repair.

8. Toothache

A toothache can create a persistent, throbbing pain in the mouth. The pain may also spread and manifest itself as a headache. A toothache is usually a symptom of another dental problem. It could be something as simple as a cavity or as serious as a fractured tooth. Visit your dentist as soon as possible to get your toothache diagnosed and resolved.

Dental emergencies can be expensive and time-consuming. While some patients will delay a trip to the dentist due to time or financial constraints, this can cost you more in the long run.   Small issues such as cavities can turn into big and expensive items over time. Don’t be shy about asking your dental professional for savings tips and take the time you need to rebuild your smile. Your dentist places your oral health as a top priority; you should too.