Most dental issues are the result of ignoring your dental health for long periods of time, but if you have sudden tooth pain or sensitivity, it may be time to give your teeth immediate attention. How can you know if your tooth or mouth problem needs emergency care? Here are some examples of emergent dental situations and what you should do if they arise.
Remember, if in doubt, call your dentist! You don’t want to end up with permanent damage or deathly infection.
Did you break or crack a tooth? A broken tooth needs to be looked at right away, because you may have some nerve damage or a cavity is weakening it. Call your dentist right away, and until you can get into the office, give your mouth a rinse with warm water and apply a cold compress to the area.
Did you bite your lip or tongue and the bleeding won’t stop? Clean the area and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. If the bleeding is severe and refuses to stop, head for the emergency room.
Did you damage your braces? Call your orthodontist. They will tell you if the damage should be fixed right away or if it can wait until your next visit. Remember to think before you eat, as most braces breakage is caused by eating foods that are too hard or sticky, and wear a mouthguard if you do sports.
Did you break your jaw? If your teeth don’t seem to fit together as they usually do, your mouth is bleeding, or you have swelling or difficult speaking, you may have a mandible fracture. Apply a cold compress and find someone to take you to your dentist or the emergency room right away.
Is one of your permanent teeth loose? It’s not normal for a permanent tooth to be loose. It can be an indicator of gum disease. During pregnancy, increased hormone levels may cause temporary loosening of teeth in women, but you should still have it checked by a dentist to rule out gum disease. Sometimes the loosening is caused by grinding or clenching, or by sports accidents, and your dentist can help you to prevent any further damage.
Did your tooth get knocked out? You need to see your dentist immediately. If your tooth is dirty, rinse it, but do not scrub, and place the tooth back into its socket. If you can’t get it in properly, soak it in milk as a preservative until you can get into the dentist. A tooth quickly replaced can embed itself back into the gum. If the tooth that is knocked out is a baby tooth, do not try to replace it. Go straight to the dentist.
Did you lose a crown or filling? Save the filling or crown and make an appointment to see your dentist. Don’t wait too long! What’s left of your tooth is not as strong as what fell out. If your dentist agrees to it, you can put a bit of clove oil on the area to reduce sensitivity while you wait for your appointment.
Do you have something stuck between your teeth? Try removing it with dental floss first or a toothpick. Do not use anything metal. If you still can’t work it out, call your dentist. They’ll tell you if it’s something you need to be seen about quickly or not.
Do you have inflammation and pain? Swelling in the mouth may indicate an abscess. Abscesses can lead to serious infection, so you’ll want to have it looked at as soon as you can. Rinse your mouth with saltwater until you can see your dentist.
Are your wisdom teeth impacted? Pericoronitis is an infection that can occur when your wisdom teeth aren’t coming in straight. Symptoms of pericoronitis include swollen or irritated gums, bad breath, and not being able to open your mouth all the way. You’ll want to have this looked at, as your airways can be restricted or cut off if the swelling is severe.
Do you have a sudden toothache? Rinse your mouth with warm water and carefully floss around the tooth to see if something is stuck in there. If the toothache persists, call your dentist.