What to do in a medical emergency

You have a Dental Emergency,. Should you go the Hospital or Dentist?

Dental emergencies can occur at any time, and like other medical emergencies, they require different types and levels of care. Where you go for treatment when you have a dental emergency will ultimately depend on the type of emergency or trauma you have and whether it involves your face and/or mouth. You should seek immediately medical attention at a hospital if your emergency involves a jaw fracture; jaw dislocation; serious lacerations of the face or mouth, or an abscess or infection that is swollen and impacting breathing or swallowing. See your dentist for other dental emergencies that are not considered life-threatening but still require immediate care.

Common Dental Emergencies

The American Dental Association recommends that you become familiar with these dental emergency procedures just in case you ever have a dental emergency. Here is a quick summary of what to do for some common dental emergencies:

If a tooth is knocked out, hold the tooth by the crown and rinse the root in water if it’s dirty. Do NOT scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If you can, gently place the tooth back in its socket or store it in a cup of milk and head for the dentist (with the tooth) immediately. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.

If you break a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. See your dentist as soon as possible.

Treat a bitten tongue or lip by cleaning gently with a cloth and applying cold compresses to reduce swelling. If bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop after a short time, seek immediate treatment from your dentist or emergency room.

If you have a toothache, rinse your mouth with warm water, gently floss to remove food that may be trapped around it and see your dentist as soon as possible. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue.

If you wear braces and a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or bank and is poking our cheek, tongue, or gum, trying using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position, or cover the end with orthodontic wax, or piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontists’ office.

Although a lost filling or crown is rarely an emergency, however, it can be painful because the exposed tooth tissue is often sensitive to temperature, pressure or air. If you have the crown, you may be able to slip it back over the tooth. Before you do that, clean the inside of the crown. Then coat the inside of the crown with tooth “cement” which you can buy in the dental section of your pharmacy. If you can’t find tooth cement, you can use denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use household glues or super glue, as they are not safe to put in your mouth, and can cause damage to the tooth and crown. Make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you.

Getting injured teeth repaired and treated as soon as possible after an injury is the best thing to do. In addition, any dental emergency like an injury to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored, as it could increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment later on.

If you’re not sure if a dental problem is an emergency, dentists offer this advice: If it hurts, it’s an emergency. Quick treatment improves the odds of saving injured or damaged teeth. No matter how big or small the emergency, contact your dentist or orthodontist immediately to determine what type of treatment is required.

Call your dentist or orthodontist today to schedule a consultation for your specific dental needs.


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