What to Do in a Dental Emergency

Some dental problems are more serious than others. If you develop a sudden, severe pain in your mouth or get hit with enough force that a tooth comes out, you're most likely in need of urgent dental care. Knowing what to do and taking action quickly in a dental emergency can help you save your tooth and preserve your smile. Here's what to do if you find yourself in an emergency situation.

Don't Panic

When you've got a sharp, severe toothache or are bleeding from the mouth, it's understandable that you'd feel frightened and a bit panicky. But the most important thing to do when facing a potential dental emergency is to stay calm. If you panic, you might make decisions that do more harm than good in the long run. 

Take a few deep breaths, look for the tooth if it has fallen out and assess your situation.  

Ask Yourself: Is This Really an Emergency?

The next thing to do in an urgent dental situation is to determine if it's really an emergency or if it's something that can wait for care. Typically, to be a genuine dental emergency, your problem either needs to be life-threatening or to require immediate treatment to prevent infection, severe pain or to alleviate bleeding. 

Examples of life-threatening dental emergencies include:

  • Infections in the gums or mouth area that cause severe swelling and that can block the airway
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Broken jawbones or facial bones that can compromise the airway

A situation doesn't have to be life-threatening to qualify as an emergency. Examples of cases that require urgent care include:

  • Severe tooth pain
  • Objects stuck in the gums that are causing swelling
  • Tooth trauma that causes a tooth to become loose or fall out
  • Loose orthodontia that is causing pain in the gums or cheeks
  • Infections that cause swelling
  • Severe pain after a dental procedure or surgery

Try to Save the Tooth

A lost or broken tooth is a common dental emergency. If you're in a situation where all or part of your tooth has fallen out, do what you can to save it. You may need to search the floor or ground to find the tooth. 

Once you've found the tooth, pick it up by the crown rather than the root. If it's a permanent tooth, try to place it back in the socket or otherwise hold it in your mouth, near your cheek. The saliva in your mouth will help to protect and preserve the tooth. 

If a child loses a tooth or you can't put a permanent tooth back in the socket or in your mouth, place the tooth in a small container surrounded by saliva or milk. You may also use Save-a-Tooth emergency preservation solution, if you have it handy. 

How to Handle Other Dental Emergencies

If you're dealing with a terrible toothache or have a chipped or cracked tooth, there are some steps to take as you prepare to go to the dentist. For a chipped tooth, rinse your mouth out and feel the tooth to see if it hurts or has a rough edge. If you can find that broken-off tooth part, bring it to the dentist with you. 

In the case of a severe toothache, try taking a pain reliever to ease your discomfort and potentially reduce swelling. You can also try rinsing your mouth with warm water and flossing around the tooth to dislodge anything that might be stuck between tooth and gum. 

For either a toothache or a broken tooth, using a cold compress or ice pack can help to reduce swelling.  

Contact a Dentist

Any time you're in a situation where you're not sure if you've got an emergency on your hands or not, the best thing to do is call your dentist. Tell them what's going on, what you're experiencing and what happened just before the pain started, or the tooth came out. Your dentist will listen to your concerns and let you know if you need emergency dental services, such as an emergency tooth extraction, or not. 

If it's the weekend or after hours, and you can't reach your usual dentist, it can be worthwhile to consider seeing a walk-in dentist. Emergency dentists evaluate your case and recommend the right course of treatment, from replacing the tooth with a dental implant to trying to restore a cracked or missing tooth.

Las Cruces Dental Solutions is here for you in an emergency situation. If you're experiencing severe tooth pain, have tooth trauma or just aren't sure what to do next, contact us today.

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