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A dental emergency can occur anytime and anywhere, so you need to know what to do in case of one. The most important thing to remember whether you’re the one who requires urgent dental care or you’re just someone helping out is to remain calm.
Staying calm is a must in order to go about the situation in a logical or rational manner. Once you’re calm, emergency dental services advise taking the following steps:
- Protect the site of injury or trauma to prevent complications.
- Call your dentist to inform him or her of the situation.
- Make the trip to the hospital or the dental clinic.
Protecting the situation or the first step is the most crucial and needs to be done right. To ensure that you perform it appropriately for whatever dental emergency you’ll find yourself dealing with, here are five tips from emergency dentists.
1. If there’s bleeding – “clean up and control.”
Mouth injuries like a knocked off tooth, cut gums, tongue or lips, and others can cause a great amount of blood to flow. This is because the gums, inner cheek, lips, and tongue have a rich supply of blood.
Blood gushing out always makes any situation more alarming, so stop the bleeding ASAP. To do so, stuff cotton in the location of the bleeding and clean the surrounding area. Or, wash the injured mouth with cold water and follow it up with a cold compress to control the bleeding as well as to manage the swelling.
If bleeding continues despite those efforts, head to the emergency room right away.
2. Minimize movement.
Patients should avoid moving too much when they’re bleeding or displaced a tooth. For a displaced tooth, hold it in place by hand as you apply a cold compress. Hold this position until you get to the dentist.
A broken or dislocated jaw is a serious emergency that requires immediate attention. To prepare to take the patient to an emergency dentist, tie a bandage or bandanna to immobilize the jaw. It is important to find the most comfortable position and make sure that the injury is properly supported to prevent unnecessary movements that can aggravate the situation.
3. Use a cold compress.
This is the best solution for any swelling that results in most dental emergencies. Apply the cold compress on the injured area for the swelling to subside and to control the bleeding.
4. Put a knocked out tooth back in the socket.
In case of a tooth that’s been knocked off the mouth, the most important thing to do is to put it back in place immediately. However, you need to handle the tooth with great care to increase its chances of survival until the restoration process to be carried out by the dentist.
Here’s a guide to handling the knocked out tooth:
- Do not touch the root of the tooth to prevent damage.
- If the tooth is dirty because of where it fell, clean it by holding the crown and using milk or saline solution to gently rinse off the dirt. Do not wipe the tooth.
- Try putting the tooth back in the socket. But if it cannot fit back into its original place, place the tooth in the inside of the cheek or lip, or keep it in a small container of milk or saliva. This will preserve the tooth until you get to your dentist.
5. Control bacterial action in the mouth.
A toothache easily qualifies as a dental emergency because it usually causes great pain. The pain is rather unbearable for many, particularly children.
Dentists advise managing the situation by keeping oral bacteria at bay. Brushing the teeth is a must. Ditto with frequently rinsing the mouth with warm water and salt until you are ready to leave for the dentist. Doing these for bacterial control will help alleviate a toothache until the dental appointment.
These tips are all proven effective. They are reliable first aid solutions to the most common dental emergencies. Keep these in mind so that should a dental emergency occur in your family or happen to you, you’ll be able to keep things under control until a dentist can attend to the situation.
Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual’s requirements, Mike’s focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.