Emergencies are scary, but dental emergencies can be extra terrifying because they’re rare and often involve some kind of force or trauma to your face. Knowing what to do can go a long way to both helping everyone stay calm and saving your precious teeth.
David F. Ouellet, DDS and his team at Pacific Coast Smiles keep some time in their schedule each day to provide dental emergency services, so if you’re concerned that they won’t have time to see you, don’t worry. Call the office or book online in an emergency.
The steps you should take depend on the type of emergency you’re experiencing. An accident that results in a cracked or broken tooth is different than a toothache that goes from nagging to severely painful. Both are emergencies but require different approaches.
Cracked or broken teeth
If there are pieces of your tooth or teeth you can salvage, save them. Rinse them and your mouth with warm water, and if you’re bleeding, use gauze or a piece of soft cloth to apply slight pressure until the bleeding stops.
Call our office immediately. Use a cold compress to keep relieve pain and limit swelling until your appointment.
Knocked out tooth
Any force strong enough to knock out a tooth is traumatic, so if you’ve lost a tooth, chances are you may be disoriented or scared. Call our office right away.
Retrieve your tooth, and only touch the parts you can normally see, and avoid touching the root. It’s important to keep your tooth moist, and the best way to do that is in your mouth. If at all possible, rinse the tooth, then gently place it back in its socket.
If you can’t put it back in the socket, you have a couple of options. There are solutions available at drug stores for these situations, so if you have one on hand, use it. If not, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends placing your tooth in milk to transport it to our office.
If you have an object stuck between your teeth, the first thing to do is try to remove it with floss. Be gentle. If you can’t remove it with floss, don’t try to use anything else.
Make an appointment with Pacific Coast Smiles as soon as possible. When you have an object stuck between your teeth, you’re at a greater risk of infection, or you may break your teeth. It’s important to get expert help right away.
Damaged dental appliances or fillings
There are many ways previous dental work could be damaged. Lost fillings or crowns, broken braces or wires, loosened bands or brackets are just a few. In each case, getting help as soon as you can is critical, both to protect your oral health and your investment.
If you lose a filling, place a piece of sugarless gum in the cavity. Be sure it is sugarless because sugar will hurt. There are also several ADA-approved brands of dental cement available over the counter.
A lost crown can be painful. If your crown falls off, retrieve it, if possible, so that you can bring it to Dr. Ouellet. Clove oil, brushed on very gently using a cotton swab, may ease pain. If you can, coat your tooth with toothpaste or denture adhesive, and slip the crown back on it.
Broken wires or brackets that could potentially cut your cheeks, gums, or tongue should be repositioned using the eraser end of a pencil, if possible. If you can’t safely bend the wire, you can use a cotton ball, gauze, or orthodontic wax to cover the sharp end.
Wax can also be used to hold a loose band or bracket in place. Never try to cut a wire in your mouth.
Severe tooth pain
If you’re experiencing a severe toothache, you may have an abscess. An abscess is an infection around the root of your tooth and can have serious consequences for your health if left untreated.
Until you can come into our office, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. Put about a half of a teaspoon of regular table salt in a cup of warm water, and use it to rinse several times per day.
Going to the emergency room
Sometimes a dental emergency requires a trip to the emergency room. Those kinds of situations include:
- Car accidents
- If you think your jaw may be broken or dislocated
- If you have a serious cut to your lips or mouth
- If your face is swelling
At such times, it’s best to call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room. You may need to follow up with Dr. Ouelett, but in some circumstances, emergency care means going to the hospital.