Dental emergencies can happen anytime to anyone. Typically they happen when the dentist office is closed which is highly inconvenient to the patient. Being prepared for dental emergencies and what to do in certain situations can mean the difference in saving or losing a tooth.
First let's discuss what is constituted as a "TRUE" dental emergency.
- Trauma sustained to a tooth from an accident
- Excessive swelling of the face
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
We often get calls on Friday afternoons (or occasionally on weekends) from patients who have had an ongoing tooth ache or broken tooth for weeks (or even months) who now are now in state of extreme pain and do not want to go through the weekend in pain. Procrastination is not your friend. Ignoring prolonged tooth pain (hoping it will go away) or a broken tooth is like ignoring the engine warning light on your car. It ultimately results in complete failure and the costs to repair rise exponentially. With routine maintenance, your car will function and be reliable. Run it out of oil and you'll have serious problems.
The same principles apply to your teeth. Routine maintenance with your dentist alerts you to possible problems and affords you the ability to get issues taken care of before they become an "emergency", saving you pain and money. With that being said, we are aware that problems arise out of the blue, or trauma to a tooth results as an accident.
What should you do if you experience a true dental emergency?
- Call your dentist at the first sign of an issue: tooth pain, loss of filling, broken tooth
- Swelling: go to the emergency room if you are experiencing problems breathing or swallowing. See your dentist right away.
- Tooth knocked out: keep moist at all times. If you can put the tooth back in the socket without touching the root, that's ideal. If not place the tooth between your cheek and gums or in milk and get to the dentist right away.
- Cracked tooth: rinse with warm salt water, cold compress may help with swelling. See the dentist right away.
- Inflamed gums: try flossing to remove food particles that may be lodged between teeth. Rinse with warm water. If it persists see your dentist.
- Tooth ache: DO NOT place an aspirin on aching tooth or gum as it may burn the gum tissue. Contact your dentist.
- Broken Jaw: After hours go directly to the emergency room at the hospital. Many times they have oral surgeons on call. Otherwise see your dentist ASAP and he/she will give you a referral to an oral surgeon.
It will never cost less or hurt less than it does today!