Dental emergencies can happen at any time, are usually quite uncomfortable, and should be addressed as soon as possible. Whether you lost or chipped a tooth, have intense pain, or have some food lodged where you can’t get it out, you’ll want to know exactly what steps to take to fix your problem.
First of all, don’t panic. The first thing to do in any emergency is to stay calm. Don’t make any rash or extreme decisions on your own before consulting a dental professional. Whatever type of dental emergency you may be experiencing, there is some good news: Usually, dental emergencies are less severe than other medical emergencies that require an emergency room or immediate treatment.
If you want to help your own cause, focus on treating symptoms like pain, swelling, or bleeding and avoid activities that could worsen the problem.
The next step is to contact your dentist as soon as you can. Describe your situation as thoroughly as possible, so your dentist can determine whether you need immediate treatment. Schedule an appointment and ask for home remedies to help you treat symptoms.
Common dental emergencies include:
- Tooth loss
- Chipped tooth
- Extreme toothache
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Signs of infection
What to do if you’re missing a tooth
Here, time is of the essence. If one of your teeth falls out or is knocked out, a dentist can usually reattach it within 30 minutes. If you have lost a tooth, follow these steps:
- Retrieve the tooth if you can.
- Call your dentist and schedule an emergency appointment.
- Handle your tooth by the crown ONLY, not the root.
- Rinse the tooth very gently, but quickly under water. Don’t rub it with a tissue or anything else.
- Put the tooth in milk. If you don’t have any milk, put the tooth back in the patient’s own mouth. Do not put the tooth in water!
- Make your way to the dentist’s office.
If you cannot find the tooth, apply gauze to the affected gum area and bite down to stop bleeding.
What to do if a toothache is unbearable
Tooth pain is not common, and having extreme pain may be the result of many different problems. Some common toothache problems include:
- Food in your teeth
- Tooth decay
- Damaged filling
- Infected gums
- Loose crown
- Tooth eruption
If your pain lasts more than 24 hours, it is wise to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Additionally, if you have swelling, pain while chewing, the taste of blood, red gums, or trouble swallowing, call your dentist immediately. Excruciating tooth pain can be extremely uncomfortable.
Here’s how to alleviate the pain in the meantime:
- Rinse your mouth with salty warm water.
- Gently floss in the target areas to remove food or plaque.
- Call your dentist.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen. However, you should not take any medication if you’re coming to the dentist within the next 4 hours, as these will cause the tests to be inaccurate.
- Try home remedies such as clove oil to numb the gums.
What to do if a tooth is chipped or broken
A chipped tooth won’t be able to be put back together, but a dentist can restore it. A broken tooth that stays below the gum line is the best-case scenario, but quick thinking on your part could save unnecessary pain.
Follow these steps if you chip or break your tooth:
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
- Minimize the swelling by applying ice.
- Call your dentist.
Moderate chips can be left alone, smoothed over, or restored with a temporary composite fix. Depending on the severity of the chip, it may require a dental crown or root canal.