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How to Handle Dental Emergencies

Aug 19 • 4 minute read

Dental emergencies can occur at any time, and whether your child has broken a tooth playing sports or you have a damaged restoration, it is best to be prepared. Delaying treatment can lead to further complications and can turn a small issue into a major problem. Take the time to prepare by creating an emergency kit, reviewing some basic care strategies, and collecting the contact information you may need.

Assemble Your Own Emergency Kit

You can make a separate dental emergency kit or include relevant items with your first-aid kit. These items can provide some relief until you can get to your appointment.

Every emergency kit will be different to meet the needs of your family. (If no one in your family wears dentures, you won’t need to keep repair cream in the kit.) A complete emergency kit may include the following:

  • Gauze
  • Tweezers
  • Orajel™ for topical relief
  • Pain relievers
  • Temporary dental cement
  • Container to hold a dislodged tooth
  • Ice pack
  • Dental Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bottled water

Add all the items to a container and label it so you can find it easily. Store it in a dry, safe place that is easy to access in your home. You can also make a kit for your car to treat a dental emergency at the park or beach.

What Should I Do in a Dental Emergency?

If you experience a dental emergency, your emergency kit and these tips can help you alleviate pain and improve your chances for a positive outcome.

Address Pain: Damaged teeth and restorations usually cause pain and swelling, which you can address with over-the-counter pain medication. Icing swollen areas can reduce inflammation and decrease discomfort. If possible, locate a local pharmacy that carries dental cement. You can use this material to cover sensitive areas and provide temporary relief.

Preserve Pieces: When tooth fragments, entire teeth, or restorations are knocked out, bring them with you. They may be re-attached under the right conditions. This treatment can decrease the need for extensive dental procedures to restore function or aesthetics.

Get Treatment ASAP: Toothaches are a sign that teeth are decayed or a possible fracture has occurred without being noticed. When you have a toothache, it’s crucial to visit us as soon as possible. If left alone, the infection will spread, and your discomfort will increase. Long-term damage impacts dental function and may cause permanent harm if not handled promptly.

Who to Call for a Dental Emergency  

Dental emergencies are always unexpected and can be incredibly stressful. On top of being in extreme pain, you may also have no idea what to do, which can bring on panic. Whether a tooth has just been knocked out or you’ve managed to lacerate your gums badly, remaining calm is vital to taking action with a clear head and avoiding more damage.

When to Call an Emergency Dentist

If you have a broken tooth, a toothache, or dental trauma, an experienced emergency dental team is fully prepared to address your needs. Most practices offering urgent care will do their best to see you the same day or the next. Emergency services they can provide include:

  • Treating Gum Pain
  • Emergency Extractions
  • Replace a Crown
  • Drain an Abscess
  • Place or Repair a Filling
  • Repair a Bridge or Dentures
  • Replace a Knocked-Out Tooth
  • Secure a Dislodged Tooth
  • Restore a Broken Tooth

When to Call Your Regular Dentist

If you chip a tooth or experience minor pain, you can probably wait until your dentist’s office has an available appointment. You can delay treatment for some conditions, including:

  • Lost fillings, crowns, or bridges
  • A cracked tooth that doesn’t hurt
  • Broken retainer or mouth gear

Sensitivity to hot or cold can occur if you have a small area of decay, a loose filling, or receding gums. Try gently brushing with a toothpaste made for sensitive gums. If this is not successful after a day or two, make an appointment to see your regular dentist. If you have a trip planned or a special occasion coming up and want to get the problem resolved sooner, contact an emergency dental practice. 

When to Call a Hospital or Urgent Care

If you have excessive bleeding, immediately seek treatment. Jaw fractures or dislocations or anything requiring sutures will need to be treated at the closest urgent care or hospital. An abscess or infection with swelling that affects your breathing or swallowing also requires immediate attention.

Find an Emergency Dentistry Near You

Everyone knows the location of the nearest hospital is when it comes to medical emergencies, but what about the dental variety? Just as it’s a good idea to the numbers for the local hospital and fire station, having emergency dental information on hand is also valuable.

Before an emergency occurs, take some time to investigate after-hours and weekend dental offices near you. Keep their phone numbers handy so you have a back-up option if your dentist is not available. If you have additional tips on dealing with dental emergencies, please share them below.

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