Dental Emergency: Know What To Do

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July 7, 2023

dental emergency

Dental emergencies may happen unexpectedly and usually require immediate attention. Knowing how to handle a dental injury can make a significant difference in preserving oral health and minimising potential complications. 

In a dental emergency, remaining calm and taking prompt action is crucial. If you’re experiencing severe tooth pain or have a knocked-out tooth, contact your dentist immediately. Meanwhile, apply a cold compress to minimise swelling, cleanse your mouth with warm water, and save any broken tooth fragments. Remember, seeking professional dental care is vital for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Also, immediate first aid for dental emergencies includes rinsing a knocked-out tooth, reinserting it if possible, or storing it properly. In cases of bleeding, rinse the mouth gently with lukewarm water and apply a clean piece of gauze or a tea bag to control the bleeding. 

This article provides essential information on common causes of dental injuries, what to do in the event of a dental emergency, and preventive measures to safeguard your teeth and gums.

Common Causes of Dental Injuries

Dental injuries can arise from various situations, ranging from accidents to oral health issues. Understanding the common causes can help individuals take precautionary measures to minimise the risk of dental emergencies.

Accidental falls and sports-related incidents

Accidental falls and sports-related injuries are among the leading causes of dental emergencies. Activities such as contact sports, skateboarding, or even a simple stumble can result in a sudden impact on the mouth, leading to tooth fractures, dislodgment, or even tooth loss. Wearing protective gear such as mouthguards during sports activities is crucial to reducing the risk of dental injuries.

Automobile accidents and physical altercations

Automobile accidents and physical altercations can cause severe trauma to the mouth and facial area, resulting in dental injuries. The impact from a car collision or a blow to the face during a fight can lead to broken or knocked-out teeth. Wearing seat belts while driving and practising non-violence can help minimise the risk of such incidents.

Biting hard objects or food

Biting on hard objects or food items, such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, or hard candies, can cause dental injuries. The excessive force applied while biting down on these hard substances can result in cracked or fractured teeth. It is important to exercise caution and avoid using teeth as tools or applying excessive force while chewing.

Dental decay and infection

Dental decay and untreated oral infections can weaken the structure of the teeth, making them more susceptible to fractures and breakage. Cavities that are left untreated can progress to the point where the tooth structure becomes compromised, increasing the risk of dental emergencies. Regular dental check-ups and prompt treatment of decay or infections are essential to prevent such emergencies.

Understanding the common causes of dental injuries is the first step in preventing them. By adopting preventive measures and practising good oral hygiene, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of dental emergencies. However, despite taking precautions, accidents can still happen. Therefore, it is essential to know what to do in the event of a dental injury to minimise damage and promote quick recovery.

What to Do in the Event of a Dental Injury

When dental emergencies occurs, it is important to stay calm and take immediate action. The steps you take in the initial moments can make a significant difference in preserving oral health and potentially saving a tooth. Here are some guidelines to follow when faced with a dental injury:

Assessing the severity of the injury

The first step is to assess the severity of the dental injury. Is it a knocked-out tooth, a cracked tooth, a loose tooth, or an object stuck between the teeth? Understanding the nature of the injury will help you determine the appropriate course of action.

Contacting a dental professional immediately

Time is of the essence when it comes to dental emergencies. Contact your dentist or an emergency dental clinic immediately to seek professional advice and schedule an emergency appointment. Explain the situation clearly and provide as much detail as possible to help them understand the urgency of the situation.

Handling different types of dental injuries

Knocked-out tooth

A knocked-out tooth, also known as an avulsed tooth, requires prompt action for the best chance of successful re-implantation. Follow these steps:

a. Pick up the tooth by the crown (the part visible in the mouth) and avoid touching the root.

b. Gently rinse the tooth with milk or saliva to remove any dirt or debris. Avoid scrubbing the tooth or using soap or chemicals.

c. If possible, reinsert the tooth back into its socket, making sure it is facing the correct way. Hold it in place by gently biting down on a piece of gauze or a clean cloth.

d. If reinsertion is not possible, store the tooth in a container of milk or a saline solution. Avoid storing it in water.

e. Seek immediate dental attention, as the chances of successful re-implantation decrease rapidly after an hour.

Cracked or fractured tooth

If you have a cracked or fractured tooth, follow these steps:

a. Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area.

b. Apply a cold compress to your face to reduce swelling.

c. Avoid biting down on the affected tooth or exposing it to extreme temperatures.

d. Visit your dentist as soon as possible for an examination and appropriate treatment, which may include dental bonding, dental crowns, or root canal treatment, depending on the severity of the fracture.

Loose tooth

If you have a loose tooth, follow these steps:

a. Try to gently reposition the tooth to its original position using light finger pressure. Do not force it.

b. Bite down on a piece of gauze or a clean cloth to keep the tooth in place.

c. Visit your dentist immediately for evaluation and appropriate treatment. In some cases, a splint may be applied to stabilise the tooth and promote healing.

Object stuck between teeth

If an object gets stuck between your teeth, follow these steps:

a. Gently try to remove the object using dental floss. Be cautious not to push it further between the teeth.

b. If flossing does not work, do not use sharp objects or excessive force to remove the object, as it can cause injury. Seek professional dental assistance.

Immediate first aid for dental emergencies

When going through sharp dental pain or a similar dental emergency, one must be aware of the immediate course of action or first aid so they do not make the situation worse. Below are tips for different scenarios.

Handling a knocked-out tooth

For a knocked-out tooth, immediate first aid involves rinsing the tooth, reinserting it (if possible), or storing it properly. It is crucial to seek dental attention without delay.

Managing bleeding and pain

If there is bleeding, gently rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a clean piece of gauze or a tea bag to the affected area to help control the bleeding. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be taken to alleviate pain temporarily. However, it is important to consult with a dental professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Temporary solutions for damaged teeth

In cases of cracked or fractured teeth, temporary dental filling material or dental cement may be used to cover the exposed area and protect the tooth until you can see a dentist. These materials can often be found in pharmacies or obtained from a dental professional.

Removing objects stuck between teeth

To remove an object stuck between your teeth, use dental floss to gently manoeuvre it out. If unsuccessful, avoid using sharp objects or excessive force, as this can cause further injury. Visit a dentist who can safely remove the object without causing harm. 

Being aware of common causes of dental injuries, knowing what to do in the event of a dental emergency, and implementing preventive measures can help individuals maintain healthy teeth and gums while minimising the risk of dental emergencies. By prioritising dental health and safety, we can ensure a confident and pain-free smile for years to come. Contact Your Healthy Smile for the most reliable dental services during dental emergencies.

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