What is a dental emergency? Dental emergencies can be unsettling and painful experiences. They often occur when you least expect them, leaving you unsure of how to respond. Understanding what constitutes a dental emergency is crucial for ensuring that you receive timely and appropriate care. In this blog, we will explore the concept of dental emergencies and the importance of having reliable family dentistry like Elite Dental and Orthodontics in Westchester, CA, to address your urgent dental needs.
What Exactly Is a Dental Emergency?
Any dental issue demanding urgent attention is considered a dental emergency. However, not every dental problem necessitates immediate care. If you’re dealing with persistent bleeding, pain or swelling unresponsive to medication, or facial bone fractures, it’s crucial to seek emergency dental treatment.
What to Do If You Have a Dental Emergency
If you’re facing a dental emergency, call your dentist right away. Many dentists provide after-hours emergency numbers. If you don’t have a dentist or can’t reach them, you can visit the nearest urgent care center or emergency room.
Common dental emergencies, such as a cracked or knocked-out tooth, can usually be addressed at the dentist’s office. However, for more severe injuries like a broken facial bone, head to the nearest emergency room.
What Constitutes as a Dental Emergency?
Dental emergencies may include:
- Severe toothache.
- A badly cracked tooth.
- Knocked-out tooth.
- Partially dislodged teeth (extruded).
- Dental abscess, causing swelling of the face and jaw.
- Lost or broken dental restoration.
- Severe soft tissue injury, like a deep cut or a broken lip.
Before seeing your dentist, you can take steps to address these dental emergencies.
A Severe Toothache
Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any stuck food. If there’s swelling, apply a cold compress on the outside of your cheek or mouth. For pain relief, consider using naproxen or ibuprofen; avoid aspirin and other painkillers that can harm gum tissue. Visit your dentist as soon as possible.
A Badly Cracked Tooth
Rinse and save any broken tooth pieces. Wash your mouth with warm water. If there’s bleeding, apply gauze for 10 minutes. Use a cold compress on the lip, cheek, or outside of your mouth near the chipped or broken tooth to reduce swelling and ease pain. Visit your dentist as soon as possible.
Knocked Out Tooth
Remove the tooth, holding it by the crown (the visible part above your gums). Rinse the tooth’s root with water, avoiding scrubbing or removing any tissue fragments. If possible, try placing the tooth back into its socket, ensuring it faces the right way. Don’t force it. If reinsertion isn’t possible, store the tooth in a small cup of milk or warm water with a pinch of salt.
Alternatively, use a product like Save-a-Tooth, containing a cell growth medium. Regardless, see your dentist as soon as possible. Returning the tooth to its socket within an hour provides the best chance of saving it.
Extruded (Partially Dislodged) Tooth
See your dentist immediately. To ease the pain until your dental appointment, apply a cold compress to the affected cheek or the outside of the mouth. If necessary, take an over-the-counter pain reliever like naproxen, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen.
Abscesses are swollen or pimple-like infections around the tooth root or between the teeth and gums. This serious condition can lead to tissue damage and impact nearby teeth. If left untreated, an abscess can result in swelling in your face, jaw, or other body parts. If you suspect a tooth abscess, see your dentist immediately. To alleviate pain, rinse your mouth several times a day with a mild solution of salt water (1/2 teaspoon table salt to 8 ounces of warm water).
Lost or Broken Dental Restoration
For old dental restorations that fall out or dislodge, take these steps: Stick a piece of sugarless gum in the hole for a missing or broken filling (avoid sugary gum to prevent pain). Alternatively, use over-the-counter dental cement. Visit your dentist as soon as possible.
If you have a broken crown or bridge, bring it to your dentist and schedule an appointment promptly. Try placing the restoration back if possible. To help keep it in position, use over-the-counter dental cement, denture adhesive, or toothpaste to coat the inner surface. Avoid using “super glue.”
Severe Soft Tissue Injury
Bleeding can occur if you injure soft tissues like your tongue, lips, cheeks, and gums. Here’s how to control bleeding:
- Rinse with a mild saltwater solution.
- Apply pressure with a piece of moistened gauze or a caffeinated tea bag. Hold it in place for 15 to 20 minutes. Tea contains tannic acids that help shrink blood vessels and reduce bleeding.
- Use a cold compress on the outside of the mouth or cheek for 5-10 minutes to control bleeding and reduce pain.
If bleeding persists, seek immediate attention from your dentist or the emergency room. Apply pressure with gauze until you can be seen by your dentist.
What Should I Do If This Is Not a Dental Emergency?
If what you’re going through might not be a dental emergency, follow these steps:
- Assess the Situation: There are situations that may not qualify as dental emergencies. In such cases, it’s still crucial to make a dentist appointment promptly, but waiting until regular business hours is acceptable.
- Non-Emergency Examples: Examples of dental issues that may not be emergencies include:
- A mild or dull toothache.
- A small chip or crack on a tooth.
- Broken braces.
- An object stuck between your teeth.
- Minor soft tissue injuries, like a cut or a sore.
- Severe Pain or Bleeding: If you experience severe pain or bleeding, it’s important to seek immediate attention from your dentist or another healthcare provider.
What Can I Do to Manage My Symptoms Before I See My Dentist?
- Rinse with warm water.
- Floss your teeth and check for debris.
- Take a pain reliever like naproxen, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. Avoid placing aspirin directly on the gums.
- Call your dentist and schedule an appointment.
Small Chip or Crack on Your Tooth
- If there’s no pain, you can wait to see your dentist.
- If sharp edges cause irritation, cover them with orthodontic wax from a pharmacy’s oral care section.
- Unless there’s mouth bleeding, it’s not an emergency.
- Gently bend a poking wire with a pencil eraser.
- Cover the wire with orthodontic wax until you see your orthodontist or dentist.
Object Between Your Teeth
- Gently remove it with dental floss or an interproximal toothbrush.
- Never use sharp objects.
Minor Soft Tissue Injury
- Rinse with salt water or antibacterial mouthwash.
- Apply clean cotton gauze with pressure; bleeding should stop in 15-20 mins.
- If bleeding persists, seek immediate medical attention.
Contact Elite Dental and Orthodontics in Los Angeles Today
Understanding what constitutes a dental emergency is essential for maintaining your oral health and well-being. Promptly addressing dental emergencies can prevent further complications and alleviate pain. Elite Dental and Orthodontics in Westchester, CA, is a trusted family dentistry that provides reliable and comprehensive care for individuals and families in the community.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to Elite Dental and Orthodontics whenever you or a family member experiences a dental emergency – they are here to help you maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. Schedule an appointment now!