Let’s face it, accidents happen, and especially when it comes to our teeth, smile and mouth, they can be pretty frightening. Being careful is good a prevention, but being prepared makes you confident about a possible oral health emergency. It’s important to know when home care will suffice and when a trip to the dentist is necessary. If you are ever in the situation that makes you feel like you need to speak with your dentist call the office, as your dentist should provide an emergency phone number. If you call during non-business hours, a recording will give instructions about how to reach the on-call dentist. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to help you through the most common situations:
Toothache/Sore Gums: Rinse with warm water to remove any food or debris; if you notice anything lodged between teeth, floss to remove it. Take an over-the-counter pain medication (but never apply the medication directly to teeth or gum), and see the dentist if the pain persists.
Chipped or Broken Tooth: Save the pieces if possible, and rinse them thoroughly. Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the swollen lip or gum tissue near the chipped tooth to prevent swelling. If the area is bleeding, apply gauze for ten minutes or until the bleeding has stopped. Call your cosmetic dentist immediately. You can possibly have a dental bonding, porcelain inlay or porcelain onlay treatment done to salvage your tooth.
With recent advancements in full mouth dentistry and cosmetic dentistry, you might not lose your tooth. If there’s enough remaining healthy tooth structure, there are several treatment options that can eliminate the need for root removal. While the success of these procedures depends on the severity of the break, it’s worth asking about option. I highly recommend you contact your cosmetic dentist.
Dislodged Tooth: find the tooth if possible, make sure not to hold it by the root, and rinse it briefly with warm water. If possible, gently reinsert the tooth into the socket and bite down on gauze or cloth to keep it in place. If you cannot reinsert it, place it in a container of milk or mild salt water solution. Call your cosmetic dentist as soon as possible. If treated within 2 hours, the tooth may possibly be salvaged.
Soft Tissue Injuries: soft tissues such as gums, cheeks, lips, and the tongue tend to bleed heavily, because the tissue contains a great deal of blood flow. To control the bleeding, first rinse with warm, mild salt water solution. Apply pressure with gauze or a moistened towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, to reduce swelling and help stop residual bleeding, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. In the event of a serious soft tissue injury, in which the bleeding is profuse or the damage is visibly traumatic, it’s best to remain calm, keep applying pressure, and go to the emergency room.