What to do if you have a Dental Emergency
If you have a dental emergency you should contact your dentist right away. Any injury to the teeth or gums should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment down the road. We've listed some common type of dental emergencies and some information on how to temporarily alleviate your dental discomfort.
The information below is offered as information only and not as professional advice.
What should I do if I have a toothache?
If you have a toothache your first step should be to thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Next, use dental floss to remove any lodged pieces of food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. You should never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. See your dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if I have a chipped or broken tooth?
If you chip or break your tooth you should save the pieces. You should rinse the mouth using warm water and rinse any broken pieces. If there's bleeding, apply pressure with a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken or chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. See your dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if my tooth gets knocked-out?
First you should retrieve the tooth. Next, hold it by the top of the tooth and rinse off the tooth root with water. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments! If possible, try to put the tooth back in place making sure you place it in facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it's not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available. In all cases you should see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
What should I do if I partially dislodged my tooth?
If you are in pain you should apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed. See your dentist right away.
What should I do if I've lost a filling?
If you have lost a filling, as a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement. See your dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if I've lost my crown?
If your crown has fallen off you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can't get to the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain you can use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area. If possible try and slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing this you should try and coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. You should NEVER use super glue!
What should I do if I have broken my braces wires?
If your wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can't reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist's office. Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs.
What should I do if I lose any brackets and/or bands?
If you lose any brackets and/or bands, you should temporarily reattach the lost braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontist as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call your orthodontist for an appointment to have it re-cemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced).
What should I do if I have an abscess?
An abscess in an infection that occurs around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums and is a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated. See your dentist right away.
To ease the pain and draw the puss toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.
What should I do if I've injured my gums, tongue, cheeks and lips and they are bleeding?
Accidents happen and if you've suffered an injury to the gums, tongue, cheeks, and lips that results in bleeding your should first rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution. Next, use a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, to both control bleeding and relieve pain, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes. Finally, if the bleeding doesn't stop, see your dentist right away or go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen and treated.