…but first, an urgent dental message from the American Dental Association:
Atlanta area dentists
As with medical injuries, dental injuries usually don’t care too much what time it is. They don’t know or care if the Dentist is in or not. They care not for constraints such as Dentist hours. Nay, the evil dental injury will happen when it wants and where it wants.
If a filling falls out, it’s entirely acceptable to go buy some of that goop from the drug store and either fill up your tooth with it, or glue your filling back in with it. But do so with the knowledge that you will be seeing the Dentist very, very soon.
Other injuries, such as a broken or impacted tooth, are too painful to wait “until tomorrow morning” or until “Monday morning” and it’s a very good thing they are so painful. The pain is a steady reminder to go see the Dentist and get that thing fixed.
The best source of information is, of course, the American Dental Association. Here’s what they have to say about Dental Emergencies:
Accidents happen, and knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth. Here are some common dental emergencies and how to deal with them. For all dental emergencies, it’s important to visit your dentist as soon as possible. Most dentists reserve time in their daily schedules for emergency patients so be sure to call your dentist and provide as much detail as you can about your condition. If the accident occurs when your dental office is not open, visit your local emergency room.
There are a few things you can do when an urgent or emergency dental situation arises
Emergency Dental – immediate steps
How do you know you have an emergency? The basic rule of thumb is, if it hurts, it’s an emergency. Pretty easy to remember. Bear in mind that your mouth leads to your throat so any chipped or broken parts of teeth or braces can be swallowed, leading to serious complications. Also, the faster you get treatment, the more likely your dentist will be able to save a tooth, or a crown, or a filling. Any delay does nothing but worsen the problem.
- If your tooth is knocked out, keep it moist and get to your dentist. Oddly enough, it’s recommended that you either keep the tooth between your cheek and gum, or in a glass of milk while you’re on the way to the dentist. There is a chance the dentist can do something with it so take care of it until you reach professional care
- If you get something stuck in your mouth, do not use dangerous items to dislodge it, like scissors. Don’t laugh, it’s documented! Use floss to pry it loose and if that doesn’t work, you should see a dental professional. Trying to pry something out of your mouth with scissors has the very good chance of causing even more damage.
- If you crack a tooth, rinse the mouth out with warm, salty water. A cold compress can be placed on the face in the affected area to keep the swelling down. Of course, be careful not to jar yourself around too much as even the smallest jolt will be transmitted to the tooth and can cause a good deal of pain.
- If your tooth becomes loose or pushed out of position, you should (of course!) call your dentist for an emergency appointment. If you can do so without causing too much pain, you should try to move your tooth back into the original location and position – but don’t force it by any means. Until you can see the dentist, take steps to ensure you don’t worsen the situation.
- Biting your tongue can happen for a wide variety of reasons and really there’s not much to be done except to clean it as well as you can and maybe apply a cold compress or suck on a piece of ice. A teabag can be applied to the tongue for a little pain relief as well. If you bite the tip of your tongue completely off, that’s a different story – get to the ER or an emergency dentist.
- If you’re suffering from a tooth ache, the first step is to ensure there is no food or other items tuck between the teeth. Use floss to remove anything that might be there and rinse your mouth out with warm water. If the pain persists, you can take an aspirin or ibuprofen for the pain but do not subscribe to the practice of actually putting aspirin directly on the affected tooth as this can burn the tissue. There are several oral pain relievers you can choose from at the local drug store and these are good to use until you can see a professional for an evaluation and resolution.
- If you lose a crown, you should see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you if you can. Until you get to the dentist, a cotton swab dipped in clove oil can be dabbed onto the tooth to ease the pain. If you can put the crown back over the tooth, do so but do not make the mistake of thinking the problem is resolved – you still need to visit the dentist.
- An abscess is not really an emergency because they don’t happen quickly. If you have an abscess, it has been forming for a little while and you’ve either ignored it or treated it with pain killers. At some point, however, an abscess will feel very much like an emergency and you’ll need to take quick action. Your first step should be to see the dentist, an emergency 24hr one if available as an abscess is very serious and a lot of health problems, not to mention pain, can result. In the meantime, rinse your mouth with warm and salty water several times a day to ease the pain and to draw the pus towards the surface of the abscess.
- Braces can play havoc on your dental comfort when a wire breaks or maybe a band or bracket becomes loose. Orthodontic wax is your friend here – use it to cover areas that might poke or cut the inside of your mouth. You can use the eraser end of a pencil to try to maneuver a broken wire into a less painful location.
So there you have a few emergency actions to take should you have a dental problem. As always, please remember to make an appointment with your dentist if it’s something that can wait. If not, use the numbers to the right to find (and go to!) an urgent dental care clinic in your area.
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