A dental emergency can happen to anyone at any time. It can be anything from a car accident or sports injury to a fall or a fight. Knowing what to do when a dental emergency occurs can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth.
A chipped tooth, loose crown, or a composite bonding repair are not dental emergencies. These can be dealt with during your dentist’s regular office hours. But if you answer yes to any of these questions, you might be having a dental emergency and should call your dentist immediately.
• Are you in severe pain?
• Do you have any loose teeth?
• Is your mouth bleeding?
• Were you hit in the face or mouth?
• Is there swelling in your mouth or facial area?
Do you feel pain from hot or warm foods or beverages? If so, try drinking ice water to relieve the pain. Do you feel pain in a tooth when biting down? It might indicate an abscess. This is an emergency and you should call your dentist’s office.
Broken or Knocked-Out Tooth
If you broke or knocked-out a tooth, it is a dental emergency. Keep the tooth moist until you can get to your dentist or an emergency room. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root.
• Pick up the tooth and do not touch the root.
• Rinse the tooth off to ensure that it is clean. Do not remove any tissue attached to it.
• If you can, place the tooth back into the socket. If you can’t, put the tooth in a small cup of milk.
• Call your dentist immediately. The longer you wait to reattach the tooth, the less chance you have of the tooth reattaching and remaining viable.
Fractured, Cracked, or Chipped Tooth
A cracked or fractured tooth is a serious dental emergency. Damage has occurred to the inside of the tooth as well as to the outside. Call your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment and follow these steps:
• Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean immediately.
• Put a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling.
• Take acetaminophen (not aspirin) to alleviate pain.
An X-ray of your tooth will be needed for your dentist to diagnose the condition of your tooth. If the soft tissue inside of the tooth is damaged, your tooth may need a root canal. If the pulp is not damaged, the tooth might only need a crown. If the tooth cannot be saved, there are alternatives for replacing missing teeth, such as dental implants and bridges.
If a tooth is chipped and doesn’t hurt, you probably don’t need to see a dentist immediately, but call to schedule an appointment. Be careful while chewing so you don’t chip the tooth anymore.
Other Dental Emergencies
Any dental problem that requires immediate treatment to save a tooth, stop ongoing bleeding, or alleviate severe pain is considered a dental emergency.
A severe infection or abscess in the mouth should be dealt with immediately. There are two types of dental abscesses, a gum abscess (periodontal abscess) and a tooth abscess (periapical abscess). Abscesses can form when the inside of your mouth is irritated and bacteria enters, causing an infection. Dental abscess symptoms include throbbing pain, swelling filled with pus, gum inflammation, sensitivity, and foul taste. If left untreated, the infection can cause damage to the teeth and bone surrounding it, and can also progress to the bloodstream, causing more serious complications.
A dentist may perform the first stage of a root canal or refer you to an endodontist to open the tooth and allow the abscess to drain.
How to Avoid a Dental Emergency
There are ways to avoid a dental emergency while playing sports and while eating. Wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or recreational activities, preferably a customized mouthguard from your dentist. Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy; any of these can crack a tooth. Never use your teeth to open a package or a bottle. Always use scissors or openers.
If you have a dental emergency, contact Webster Dental in Downers Grove immediately at 630.663.0554. Our office is conveniently located at 1121 Warren Avenue, Suite 130, in Downers Grove, Illinois.