Dental emergencies are rare, but they can happen. Knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth.
The following is a list of criteria for emergency oral health care:
- Swelling or fever
- Limited opening of mouth, difficulty in closing mouth, or difficulty in swallowing
- Dental trauma, such as a severe tooth fracture
- Intense or prolonged pain that does not lessen with painkillers
- Bleeding, for example following a tooth extraction (if mouth appears to rapidly fill with blood)
- Ulcer in oral cavity
- Broken fixed dental brace that digs painfully into the gums
On the other hand, the criteria listed below are not dental emergencies:
- Mild pain that lessens with painkillers
- Pain caused by hot or cold
- Fracture in tooth or filling
- Problems with dentures or removable dental braces
In these cases, the urgency of the need for treatment will be evaluated on the phone.
What should I do in the event of a dental emergency?
For a cracked tooth, immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down.
If you bite your tongue or lip, clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress.
For toothaches, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
For objects stuck in the mouth, try to gently remove with floss but do not try to remove it with sharp or pointed instruments.
If a piece of a front tooth fractures off, find the piece and take it to the dentist. It may be possible to bond the piece back in place.
When you have a dental emergency, it’s important to visit your dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?
A permanent tooth that is knocked out (avulsed) is one of the few real emergency situations in dentistry.If a tooth is avulsed, make sure it is a permanent tooth (baby or primary teeth should not be replanted).
- Keep the child calm
- Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the white part)
- Avoid touching the root. If the tooth is dirty, wash it briefly (10 seconds) under lightly running cold water and reposition it back where it was in the mouth. Try to encourage the child or parent to replant the tooth themselves.
- Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position
- If this is not possible, place the tooth in a glass of milk or get the child to spit into a container and place the tooth in it. Avoid storage in water!
- It is VERY IMPORTANT to replant the tooth as quickly as possible to increase the likelihood of success. If the tooth is out of its position for more than 60 MINUTES, the chance of success is almost nil.
- Seek emergency dental treatment immediately
If you think you may have a dental emergency, or if you have any questions about the information above, please contact Lorne Park Dental.
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