In most cases, teeth require low maintenance as long as you take care of them by brushing, flossing, and scheduling regular dental cleaning. However, dental emergencies that require immediate medical attention can occur unexpectedly. While emergency rooms can handle a variety of medical situations, very few are equipped to handle emergency dental services.
What Are Emergency Dental Services?
Emergency dental services is a broad term and can include any or all of the oral emergencies below.
A sudden onset toothache may indicate something serious and may require you to seek emergency dental services. Be sure to rinse with warm water and try to flush out any food particles that may be trapped between the teeth or under the gum line. Symptoms such as agitation, displacement, or nerve damage can cause serious pain.
Braces can cause a variety of problems and dental difficulties ranging from poking wires or brackets popping off. If your dentist has not installed braces properly, then they can cause damage to the inside of the mouth.
Swelling or Abscess
If you are experiencing swelling or abscess in the mouth, you likely have an infection. This may require antibiotics. Should an abscess rupture while waiting for treatment, you should then thoroughly rinse your mouth out with warm water until the abscess is no longer draining.
Chipped or Knocked-Out Tooth
You may be able to salvage the remains of a chipped or broken tooth. You should always consult your dentist who will be able to say for certain. Be sure to save any pieces in a container with milk, water with a little salt, or the saliva of the person.
Should you experience a dental emergency that knocks out your tooth:
- Baby teeth are likely out for good. Dentists cannot re-implant them. Fortunately, the child’s adult teeth will grow in and replace the damaged baby teeth.
- Adult teeth can be re-implanted in a one-to-two hour window of being displaced. Only a dentist can tell for sure. Save the tooth in a container with milk, water with a little salt, or the saliva of the person.
Lost Filling or Crown
Though they are supposed to be in place permanently, it is not uncommon for fillings or crowns to get knocked out of place. A dentist may be able to reuse a salvaged cap or filling.
While Awaiting Emergency Dental Services
If you have determined that you need to seek emergency dental services, here is what you should do until you are able to get to the dentist.
Most dental emergencies involve a degree of pain. Dentists advise you to use Tylenol to help with the pain. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are blood thinners and can make delay clotting or even bleeding worse. Additionally, you can apply an ice pack directly to the jaw for 20 minutes each hour for pain and to minimize swelling. You can also apply a numbing gel directly to the problem areas to ease the pain.
In most cases, rinsing with warm salt water is sufficient to cleanse the mouth. A rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash can help prevent bacteria from forming an infection in an oral injury.
Gather Fragments, if Applicable
If you experience a dental emergency and knock out your teeth, either in part or in whole, gather what you can and rinse with warm water. Additionally, keep anything in a small container with milk, water with a little salt, or the saliva of the person.
In the case of any lost fillings, temporary fillers may be used from the pharmacy. If you can find the original crown, you can then form a temporary reattachment until you get in to see the dentist.