DENTAL TRAUMA AND EMERGENCY
In the unfortunate event that you experience a dental emergency, you should immediately contact your dental provider. Many dentists have accommodating schedules for emergency dental procedures. Make sure that you have your dentist?s emergency contact information readily accessible at any time. In case of a dental emergency, it is important that you see your dentist within 30 minutes or less as this timeframe can determine whether your tooth can be saved or lost. Below is a list of several scenarios that may happen in a dental emergency.
If your tooth gets knocked out, you must immediately follow these few procedures and notify your dentist. In doing so, you increase your chances that the tooth can be saved and reinserted by your dentist.
Start by retrieving the tooth and be sure to handle it by the crown, being careful not to touch or damage the roots.
You may clean the tooth by rinsing it very gently in water as scrubbing may remove tissue or cause additional damage. It?s a good idea to make sure the drain is closed while rinsing to protect it from falling in.
If possible, you may try to reposition the tooth carefully in its original socket and then slowly bite down to hold it in place.
In the event that the previous step was not possible, simply place the tooth in a small container with some milk.
Contact your dentist as soon as possible as the steps provided are crucial in saving the tooth. Time is against you when you knock out a tooth, the longer you wait to have the tooth refitted in its socket the slimmer your chances are of saving the tooth.
You should immediately call your dentist in the case of a loose tooth or one that is out of alignment to schedule an emergency appointment. Until then, keep the tooth in its natural position by applying gentle pressure with your finger. Do not be forceful. Sometimes it helps to bite down on the tooth to keep it from moving. If this is the case, your dentist may want to further anchor the tooth by splinting it to its adjacent teeth.
CHIPPED, CRACKED OR FRACTURED TEETH
If you have a tooth that is chipped but do not experience any pain, it is usually not a dental emergency, and it won?t hurt to wait a few days to until an appointment can be made with your dentist, but you should be careful not to cause additional damage to it while eating. In treating a chipped tooth, your dentist may simply smooth the area that was chipped or repair the area with composite filling material for a natural appearance.
A tooth that is cracked or fractured usually indicates that damage has occurred within the tooth structure as well as on the outside in which case you should immediately contact your dentist for an emergency appointment. Some tooth fractures may be so severe that the tooth might not be able to be saved by your dentist. In the event of such an emergency, upon contacting your dentist, follow the steps listed below:
Carefully rinse your mouth with warm water.
If the tooth fracture was brought on by trauma, a cold compress can be used to minimize swelling.
Acetaminophen can be taken as instructed to help reduce any pain. (Be careful not to take aspirin.)
Never apply a painkiller to the gum because it can burn the gum tissue around the tooth. This includes Orajel, which often is marketed for these types of procedures.
In order to determine the state of your tooth, your dentist will first take an X-ray. If the pulp (soft tissue inside the tooth) is damaged, your dentist may advise a root canal. A crown may suffice is the pulp is unharmed. Some dental offices provide permanent crown placement within the same day while other offices use laboratories to make the permanent crowns in which case you will wear a temporary crown in the meantime. If your tooth cannot be saved, the best options available to you will be presented to you by your dentist to replace the missing tooth.
SOMETHING STUCK BETWEEN TEETH
Try first using dental floss to carefully and gently remove the particle. Be careful never to pry at your teeth using sharp objects such as pins or needles which can scratch the tooth?s enamel and cut your gums which may lead to infection. If you cannot remove the object call your Hamilton dentist to safely remove it for you.
In the event of a lost filling, place a piece of softened sugarless gum at the site of the missing filling. This will help to temporarily protect the area. Call your Hamilton dentist to make an appointment as soon as possible.
TISSUE INJURY AND FACIAL PAIN
Injuries within the mouth including lacerations, puncture wounds, tears in the lips, cheek mouth and tongue are tissue injuries and constitute a dental emergency. In such a case, you should immediately clean the area with warm water. If the tongue is bleeding, gently apply pressure on the wound with gauze. In the event you experience any facial pain involved with tissue injury, you may take acetaminophen or Tylenol as directed on the package label. Aspirin and ibuprofen are anticoagulants which should never be taken for a dental emergency as there ingestion may result in excessive bleeding.
An abscess within the mouth can be life threatening along with the severe infection which may accompany it. These cases require immediate treatment. Your dentist may refer you to an endodontist (root canal specialist) to drain the abscess. If your dentist cannot be reached, you should go to your local hospital emergency center.
PROBLEMS WITH TEMPORARY RESTORATIONS
If you temporary crown comes off, do not worry. Simply put it back into place by applying Vaseline, Chapstick, toothpaste, or denture adhesive into the temporary and positioning it so that the tooth may remain in its position until you see your dentist. You can test how it fits first before applying adhesive if necessary. Once in, bite down firmly on a dry washcloth to apply even pressure. Wait a few minutes then remove any excess adhesive but still contact your dental provider within the next few days to have it properly re-positioned.
IS IT A DENTAL EMERGENCY?
The following symptoms usually indicate a dental emergency:
Bleeding within the mouth
Trauma to the mouth or face
Swelling within the mouth or face
Knots, bulges or swelling seen in the gums
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you may have a dental emergency and should notify your dentist immediately to describe the events leading up to the discomfort and what symptoms you may be experiencing. Sipping on ice water may help to alleviate pain until you see your dentist. If you experience sensitivity with cold or simply breathing in air try breathing through your nasal airways instead and contact your dentist?s office. Pain experienced while biting down may indicate an abscess which is a dental emergency. Contact your dentist office for further instructions.
AVOIDING A DENTAL EMERGENCY
You can avoid most dental emergencies with routine cleanings with your dentist by making sure that your mouth and teeth are strong, healthy and without decay. If you are leaving for vacation and will not have access to dental care, it is advised that you set an appointment with your dentist before your departure to make sure that you don?t have any loose crowns, or decay near the nerve. Such issues might cause pain and may develop into another problem which may become a dental emergency in the future. Also wearing a mouth guard during sports activities will help to prevent any chipped, knocked out or broken teeth. Chewing on ice or other such hard foods should also be avoided as they may break or fracture your teeth.
PREPARING FOR A DENTAL EMERGENCY
It is important to be prepared for a dental emergency at all times, we advise that you keep a dental first aid kit handy. You?ll need the following items:
Small lidded container
Dental provider?s contact information
Acetaminophen (not aspirin or ibuprofen as they are known blood thinners and may cause excessive bleeding).
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