Every individual suffers a tooth problem once in a while; it could be a knocked-out, chipped, broken or cracked tooth. Accidents happen, and knowing what to do when these accidents take place can spell the difference between losing and saving a tooth.
Here’s how you can manage common dental emergencies once they occur to you or a member of your family:
1. Severe Toothache
A simple toothache can run from a minor irritation to a serious dental emergency. If the pain does reach serious levels, head to the dental office quickly (and while you’re at it, you can take ibuprofen to treat the pain).
Here are other things you can do:
- Make sure your mouth is clean by brushing and flossing, then use warm water to rinse
- Aside from taking ibuprofen, relieve the pain by using a warm compress
- Do not attempt to put aspirin on your gums as it can burn your gum tissues
- If you are having difficulty swallowing and experiencing severe swelling, go to the nearest emergency room in your area
2. Bleeding Gums
If you are seeing blood inside your mouth, you may have gum disease or gingivitis. If the bleeding is caused by gum disease, the sooner you get treated, the better.
However, if bleeding occurs and still continues after undergoing treatment or medication prescribed by your dentist, head back to the dental clinic. Make sure to keep your head elevated if the bleeding is caused by an injury.
3. Cracked or Broken Tooth
When your tooth gets cracked or broken, locate any tooth fragments and make sure to bring them with you to the dentist as soon as possible. By doing so, the dentist can bond the fragments to your tooth quickly before more damage is sustained.
Follow these steps as well:
- Clean the area with the broken tooth gently with warm water
- Protect the detached tooth fragments from exposure to air, germs or liquid by using a sterile gauze to cover them
- Reduce any gum swelling by applying a cold compress on your face
4. Knocked-out Tooth
When one of your teeth has gotten knocked out, rushing to a trusted clinic for emergency dental care is crucial if you are to preserve and keep your tooth.
If the knocked-out tooth is dirty, rinse it gently with water and leave any tissue fragments in place. Make sure to keep the tooth moist until you reach the dentist. Preserve the tooth by placing it inside a Tooth Preservation Kit or inside a container with milk.
It is advisable that you see the dentist within 15-20 minutes to increase the chances of successfully re-attaching the tooth.
5. Broken Jaw
This is a very serious emergency that you must bring to your dentist’s attention immediately.
A broken jaw is usually caused by accidents when riding an automobile, playing a sport, or even at work. The signs of a broken jaw can include numbness, swelling or bruising in your face, jaw pain, bleeding from your mouth, and teeth that are broken or have become loose.
Here’s what you can do:
- Apply a cold compress on the affected area by using ice wrapped in cloth to reduce the swelling
- Make sure to provide steady support to your jaw
- Keep your airways open while you wait for the dentist
Your dentist will then examine your jaw and determine whether you will need medication (anti-inflammatories), whether your jaw will have to be wired shut, or whether you require surgery.
With healthy teeth and gums, you can continue flashing that vibrant smile with a complete set of teeth, enjoying your favorite food and drinks, and communicating freely with others. However, you may experience dental issues every now and then. With these helpful tips, you can react appropriately to various dental emergencies in the event that they happen to you.
Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual’s requirements, Mike’s focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.