Seven things to do during a dental emergency

Most people know a little first aid and what to do in a medical emergency. You may remember how to do the Heimlich maneuver if someone is choking. But what are you supposed to do if you encounter a dental emergency? The thing about emergencies is you never know when they are going to occur. Obviously, you didn’t schedule for your tooth to break when you bit into that corn on the cob!

Non-Emergency Dental Conditions

Basically, you have two options in dental emergencies. If the injury is severe such as a broken jaw, call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room for immediate treatment. The other option is to call your dentist for an emergency appointment. How do you know if your condition is urgent or not? Not every dental issue merits a trip to the ER or a midnight call to your Saginaw dentist. Some non-emergency conditions that can wait until morning include:

  • A dull toothache
  • Lost filling, crown, or bridge
  • Chipped or broken tooth (unless accompanied by severe pain)
  • Objects stuck between two teeth
  • Broken wires or braces

Urgent Dental Issues

In most cases, dental problems can be treated at home until you can get in to see the Saginaw dentist. Examples of true dental emergencies include:

  • Injured jaw
  • Painful swelling
  • Severe toothache
  • If a permanent tooth is partially or totally knocked out
  • A toothache, or tooth infection that is accompanied by fever, swelling, or severe pain

What to do in a Dental Emergency

No matter what the cause, a dental emergency is serious. If left unaddressed it can worsen and lead to other issues such as the loss of a tooth. Do not ignore a serious issue or dismiss it even if the pain subsides some. Here are seven things to do during dental emergencies.

  1. React carefully, but quickly should a tooth, pieces of a tooth or a dental appliance become dislodged. Gather up all the pieces to take with you to the dentist’s office. Dr. Schau may be able to restore the tooth.
  2. If a tooth gets knocked completely out, find the tooth, and handle it by touching only the crown, not the root. You may rinse it with water but do not scrub it or wash away any tissue that may remain on the tooth. Put the tooth in a cup of milk or in some warm water with a tiny bit of salt. When possible, put the tooth in the socket and hold it there. If you can get to the dentist within an hour, it is possible the tooth might be restored.
  3. If a tooth gets broken, rinse your mouth with warm water and hold a cold compress to your face to help reduce the swelling. Gather up any pieces of the tooth and call your dentist immediately.
  4. Did your tongue or lip get bitten? Apply pressure with a cloth or a cold compress to help minimize swelling. If it is bleeding a lot, go to the Emergency Room.
  5. If tooth pain becomes severe, rinse your mouth with warm water. Floss can be used to gently dislodge debris or food that might be trapped between teeth. Call Dr. Schau and explain your discomfort so she can see you as soon as possible.
  6. A fractured or broken jaw needs immediate medical attention. While en route to the ER or the dental office, apply a cold compress to help reduce swelling.
  7. Broken or loose wire on braces can damage nearby tissue. Cover any sharp or jagged ends with orthodontic wax or gauze. If a wire is stuck into your cheek, gum tissue, or tongue, do not try to remove it yourself. Seek immediate dental treatment.

Contact Dr. Jennifer Schau

Some dental emergencies can be avoided with routine checkups. If it’s time for your regular dental checkup, contact our offices to schedule your appointment. If you have a dental emergency, please call Dr. Schau as soon as possible or go to the Emergency Room.

Want to schedule an appointment?