The key to minimizing a dental injury is to see your dentist as soon as possible. Learn what to do in the event of an injury to your mouth. It could save you a lot of pain and distress.
Dental emergencies can be managed with a little prevention and preparation. Ask your dentist or staff about their emergency procedures. Exercise common sense and caution by using safety equipment, and always keep the dentist's phone number where everyone in the family can access it quickly.
What Constitutes a "Dental Emergency"?
A dental emergency can easily be described as any abnormal oral condition that causes pain or concern. Most often, it takes the form of an injury to the teeth, gums or jaw. In addition to injuries, an abscess, toothache or infection can cause pain, swelling or fever.
Any of these conditions require at the very least an emergency phone call to your dentist.
A knockedout tooth
Fractured or chipped tooth
Cut lip or gums
How to Treat a Dental Emergency... Until You Get to a Dentist:
A toothache usually indicates that something is wrong. Pain may come from the tooth itself, the gums or the jaw muscles or joints. Take aspirin, Tylenol or Advil if you can use them. Do not put heat or any of these pain relievers directly on the tooth--take them as directed on the label.
Abscess: A dental abscess can be caused by infection of the gums (periodontitis)or death of the tooth's nerve (necrosis). An abscess can be very serious. Symptoms generally include extreme pain and swelling near the affected area. Call your dentist immediately.
If your mouth, lips or face swells due to dental problem, this generally indicates an infection. You should be seen by your dentist as soon as possible. Swelling that affects your eye or throat, or a fever also requires immediate attention-call your dentist.
Knocked-out tooth: A knocked-out (avulsed) tooth happens about five million times a year. Many of these teeth can be saved if the tooth is recovered, handled properly and the patient gets to your dentist in time. Baby teeth are not replaced but in the event a child's baby tooth is avulsed, call your dentist. When a permanent tooth is knocked out, you should call your dentist
immediately for an emergency appointment. Id the tooth is found intact, it should not be handled by the root. If the tooth is dirty or contaminated, it should be places gently in a transport solution, such as EMT ToothSaver. The next best alternative is to transport the tooth in a clean container filled with cold whole milk or water and get to your dentist immediately.
Chipped and Fractured teeth: For minor chips, you may want to restore the tooth with a composite (tooth-colored) filling material. A moderate facture includes damage to the enamel, dentin and/or pulp. Restoration may require further treatment. Severe fractures usually involve extensive trauma for the tooth with slim chance of recovery. Your dentist will recommend the best treatment plan for restoration based on your individual injury. If a tooth can be saved, quick action is necessary. Rinse the patient's mouth with water and apply cold compresses to the swelling. If recovered, bring the chip to the dentist along with the patient.
Soft Tissue mouth injury: Soft tissues in the mouth are delicate and when injured, can be very painful. If you experience severe bleeding, rinse your mouth with warm water. Pulling the tongue forward and applying sterile gauze to the wound can reduce bleeding from a tongue injury. To relieve pain, slow the bleeding and reduce swelling, hold ice to the area for up to 10 minutes.
A severe mouth injury should be treated first by emergency room personnel to minimize blood loss and the possibility of infection. Once the injuries have been treated and the patient stabilized, call your dentist for treatment.
Jaw Injury: An impacted to the head severe enough to injure the jaw can be life threatening. If a jaw injure is suspected, immobilize the jaw by wrapping a towel under the chin and over the head, and applying ice to reduce swelling. Go immediately to the emergency room for treatment. Once the patient's injuries have been evaluated and treated, call your dentist. an intra-oral exam and x-rays may be needed.
How to Prevent Dental Injuries:
Most toothaches can be avoided with good preventive care which means regular visits to the dental office. Athletic individuals can prevent most sport injuries by wearing mouthguards. Motorcyclist should select quality, full-coverage helmets. In-line skaters and bicyclers should also wear approved helmets. Look for the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or SNELL certification labels on all types of helmets.
Young children can be protected from injury by always securing them in car seat. Take steps to child-proof your home to prevent falls by hiding loose electrical cords and covering or padding things such as brick fireplace hearths, sharp stair edges and dangerous furniture. And last but not least, everyone should wear the seat belt anytime they ride in a vehicle.
Injuries to the mouth and teeth are sudden and can be very painful. You may not be able to prevent them in all cases but you can be prepared to minimize the pain and after effects. Regular visits to your dentist will establish you as a patient of record who can call after hours for an emergency appointment-some dentist only offer emergency hours to regular patients.
Talk with the dentist or staff about their emergency policy and procedures. Preparation could be your best defense against the consequences of a dental injury.