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Not every instance of dental discomfort constitutes an emergency. Knowing what is considered a dental emergency can help you to know that getting cared for quickly can help to save a tooth or prevent serious complications.
At Trailhead Advanced Dentistry, we provide emergency dental care for our patients and give this guide to help them know when to come to see us immediately.
A knocked-out tooth requires attention from a dentist within an hour to save the tooth. The longer you wait to see a dentist, the greater your chances are of not having the tooth replaced. Anyone who loses a tooth, adult or child, must see a dentist quickly.
Dentists will attempt to replace a permanent tooth in an adult or older child who lost it. The dentist will examine the tooth for younger children to determine whether it is a permanent or baby tooth. They will also see if all or part of the tooth fell out and if they can replace it.
Don’t delay in getting dental attention if you have a tooth knocked out. Time makes a difference in whether the dentist can replace it successfully.
Severe Tooth Pain
Severe dental pain, especially with swelling, indicates a possible infection. If the pain prevents you from sleeping, even after taking over-the-counter pain relievers, you should see a dentist. Without treatment, the infection could spread to other areas of the body.
Broken or Cracked Tooth
Broken or cracked teeth range in severity from cosmetic issues to serious problems. The amount of the tooth broken off or the extent of the crack will help the dentist to choose the best treatment plan to try to save the tooth.
A cracked or broken tooth can expose the inside of the tooth to bacteria. Waiting longer increases the chances of your tooth becoming infected. Additionally, cracks in teeth can grow without treatment until they are so large that a dentist cannot save the tooth.
What to Do When You Have a Dental Emergency
Once you recognize the urgency of the situation, call your dentist. Doing so will alert the office of your arrival so you can get emergency dental care. Then, take some minor first aid steps to help ease discomfort and increase the likelihood of saving a damaged tooth.
For a knocked-out tooth, act as quickly as you can. First, try to find the tooth. This part is essential if you want to avoid needing an implant to replace the tooth.
When you pick up the tooth, do not touch the root end. Keep the entire tooth moist. The best way to retain moisture in the tooth is to try to place it back into the socket. If you cannot do this, place the tooth into a glass of milk, saliva, or into a tooth preservation product.
Keeping a tooth preservation product in your home’s first aid kit gives you an alternative to milk or salvia for saving the tooth moist on your way to the dentist. Avoid using tap water to keep the tooth moist. If you or your child participate in high-impact sports, request that the coach add a tooth preservation product to the team’s first aid kit to help athletes who have teeth knocked out during practice or play.
The best time to see a dentist after having a tooth knocked out is within 30 minutes. However, if you keep the tooth properly moistened, you may have up to an hour to see the dentist before the chances of saving the tooth decrease significantly.
Try some basic measures to control dental pain first. Place a cold compress on your face on the painful side. Floss around the painful tooth and rinse with warm water to dislodge any food from the spot. Never place aspirin on a painful gum or tooth. The aspirin can cause burns on your oral tissues and won’t relieve pain. Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, orally to ease the pain. See your dentist as soon as possible to have the cause of the pain treated.
Broken or Cracked Tooth
A broken tooth or crack in a tooth also requires quick action. For a broken tooth, try to locate the piece that broke off and bring it to the dentist with you. Use warm water to rinse debris out of your mouth. The warm water will also help you see if your tooth is sensitive to warm temperatures. Rinsing out your mouth may also help remove debris that could cause an infection.
Don’t put off going to the dentist for a cracked or broken tooth. You raise your chances of infection or a worsening crack if you do.
How to Prevent Dental Emergencies
Reduce your chances of experiencing a dental emergency by taking some of the following measures:
Protect Teeth During Sports
Often, knocked-out teeth, also called avulsed teeth, happen during high-impact sports. However, you don’t have to give up your favorite sports or activities to protect your teeth. Use a sports mouthguard to help protect your teeth from getting knocked out or cracked, especially during high-impact activities. If you have a child in sports, make sure that they consistently wear their mouthguard during play to get them into the habit of protecting their teeth.
Get Dental Problems Treated Early with Regular Dental Checkups
Severe dental pain often starts as minor discomfort. If you have pain in a tooth, don’t wait for it to worsen into an emergency. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible when you have any type of pain.
Also, pay attention to your regular checkups and cleanings. These exams let your dentist identify minor areas of decay and correct them before they grow and cause severe pain and infections.
Trust Us at Trailhead Advanced Dentistry to Care for You Promptly When You Have a Dental Emergency
Know that you can trust our team at Trailhead Advanced Dentistry to get you to see our dentist quickly when you have an emergency. We’ll prioritize your visit, but you need to call us on your way. Contact us at Trailhead Advanced Dentistry to inform us that you have an emergency requiring immediate care. We can also answer any of your questions about our emergency dental services. We want to be the dental office you turn to for all your dental needs.