Imagine this scenario: it’s a beautiful weekend, and you’re out on the ice, playing hockey with some friends. Everyone is competing hard and having a good time, until—wham! Next thing you know, you’re missing one of your teeth! What should you do? Without a doubt, suffering through a dental emergency may be one of the most stressful things you’ll ever experience at any age. What can make it even more stressful is if it occurs during non-office hours. So what do you do when you’re trapped in a dental emergency without access to your dentist?
First things first: try not to panic. Dental emergencies happen a lot more than you might think, so there are many ways to find immediate help.
This article will discuss some common dental emergencies, and how to best handle them until you can get hold of your dentist. There are two basic categories to dental emergencies: those that require immediate attention, and those that are somewhat less urgent. Let’s start by discussing the former category:
Urgent Dental Emergencies
There are some dental emergencies that absolutely require immediate attention. If your emergency falls into this category, you usually know it. Situations that involve massive blood loss, missing teeth, jaw fracture, broken bones, or any other trauma requires immediate medical attention. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more likely you’ll face painful or irreversible consequences. If you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you visit your local hospital’s emergency room for treatment as soon as possible.
Click here to see a list of emergency facilities around the Clarington area.
Here are some other considerations to keep in mind:
Bleeding from Mouth
If you are bleeding from your mouth, be sure not to take anti-coagulants like Aspirin or ibuprofen to deal with the pain, since these will increase the blood flow. Instead, take Tylenol or another type of Acetaminophen.
If your child is the one bleeding, try to remain calm as they will feel less afraid by your relaxed tone of voice. Make sure they move around as little as possible, and if you have to drive them to an emergency room, sit in the back seat with them while someone else drives.
If you’re suffering from pain accompanied by swelling, odds are that you have contracted an infection and need to undergo a course of antibiotics. Swelling may mean that you have a tooth abscess, in which case you may need an endodontist to perform a root canal if your dentist is not available.
Swelling and inflammation can cause tremendous amounts of pain, especially in and around your gums. If the swelling intensifies, avoid eating or drinking. Do not wait for the pain to become worse. The sooner you can start your antibiotics, the better.
Knocked Out Tooth
If one of your teeth gets knocked out, you have a small window of time in which it may be able to reattach to its root. Be sure to pick it up by its crown, not its root. Plug the sink to avoid losing your tooth down the drain and gently rinse it with milk. Do NOT rinse it with tap water, as the chlorine can damage the tooth. Gently press the tooth back into the socket, place a folded piece of sterile gauze on top, and gently bite down.
If your child’s baby tooth has been knocked out, collect the tooth to make sure that it’s intact. If it appears chipped or cracked, check your child’s mouth thoroughly to ensure there are no sharp pieces stuck somewhere that could hurt them. A knocked out baby tooth probably doesn’t need to be reimplanted, however, we recommend making a regular appointment with the dentist to ensure that more serious damage was caused. If the knocked out primary tooth is accompanied by other signs of trauma, take your child to the emergency room immediately.
A facial fracture refers to any injury that results in broken bones to the face; this could include damage to your eye sockets, forehead, cheekbones, nasal fractures (most common), or—in the context of dental emergencies—upper and lower jaw fractures. Facial fractures can be mild, moderate, or life-threatening, and are usually the result of a car accident or sports injury.
If you suffer from a facial fracture, seek medical help immediately. Facial fractures require more than emergency dentistry, so if you think you or your child has a broken or fractured facial bone, we recommend going to the hospital where you can receive multiple types of treatment.
Self-Care for Dental Emergencies
Certain dental emergencies allow for self-care until your dentist’s office re-opens. These emergency situations could include:
- A chipped or fractured tooth
- A dull toothache
- An object caught between teeth
There are certain things you can do to cope with any pain or discomfort in the above scenarios. For instance, knotted dental floss can help you to remove a popcorn kernel or other foreign object from between your teeth, which may immediately relieve the pain. The 3-3-3 method can help you cope with a toothache until you’re able to see your dentist: take a dose of 3 Advil tablets (600 mg) three times a day, for 3 days.
Dental emergencies are never any fun; and they’re only worse when they happen on weekends or holidays. In most cases, the best thing you can do in a dental emergency is to make a beeline to the nearest ER. Some self-care options can alleviate pain and discomfort. Of course, reach out to your dentist as soon as he or she becomes available for further consultation and treatment.
For any dental emergency that occurs during office hours, reach out to us at KingTown Dental immediately. We’ll make sure that you receive the care and attention that you need.