Do you have bleeding in your mouth? Do you have severe tooth/mouth pain? Do you have a fever and swelling in the mouth or facial area? Did you experience trauma/injury to the mouth or face? Any of these conditions require emergency dental care. Some dental emergencies require treatment within 30 minutes or less; others can wait until the next day.
Here are the most common causes of dental emergencies:
A tooth that has been knocked loose.
This is often caused by trauma to the face or mouth, from an accident, playing sports, or biting/chewing something hard. If the trauma is accompanied by a laceration inside the mouth and/or severe pain and bleeding, you will need emergency treatment right away. Otherwise, you can book an appointment with your dentist the next day.
In the meantime, you can follow these steps to save your tooth and increase the chances that it can still be reinserted by your dentist:
- If the tooth is simply loose, use your finger to gently push it back into place. Bite down to hold it in place while you’re on your way to your dentist. If your appointment is not until the next day, avoid using it to chew or bite so as not to dislodge it. Eat soft foods in the meantime.
- If the tooth has fallen out, pick it up by the crown, not the root, to minimize contamination.
- Place it on top of a washcloth and rinse the tooth using distilled water; do not scrub it as you may remove attached tissues.
- If possible, gently place the tooth back into its socket. Lightly bite down on it to put it in place. Otherwise, place the tooth inside a small and clean container with a lid, and bring it with you when you visit your dentist.
- It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible in order to save your tooth.
A tooth that has been chipped, cracked, or fractured.
A chipped tooth that isn’t causing any pain can wait a few days for treatment; but you should be careful when chewing.
A cracked or fractured tooth needs to be immediately seen and treated by a dentist, as it is likely that the damage extends deeper into the tooth. First aid includes:
- Rinsing your mouth with warm water.
- Minimizing swelling of your face with a cold compress, if there was facial trauma.
- Taking a pain reliever.
Oral tissue injury
According to YourDentistryGuide.com, oral tissue injury includes “puncture wounds, lacerations and tears to the lips, cheeks, mouth and tongue,” and requires emergency dental treatment. A tooth abscess, which involves infection of the pulp tissue inside the tooth, should also be treated by a dentist right away if there is swelling and fever or difficulty breathing and/or swallowing. First aid at home involves:
- Rinsing the area with warm water.
- For an injured tongue, gently pull the tongue and apply pressure on the wound with a clean gauze.
- You can take acetaminophen to manage the pain. It’s important to remember not to take aspirin or ibuprofen when there is bleeding as these are anticoagulants.
Call your regular dentist right away if you need emergency dental care. Getting treatment as soon as possible is critical in order to save a damaged tooth and prevent complications from oral injury.