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What to Do in the Event of a Dental Emergency

Mar 21 2017

It can sometimes be unclear exactly what constitutes a dental emergency. Mouth issues often cause pain and can instill fear. You may wonder if the problem needs to be addressed immediately, if it can be handled at home, or if it can wait for an office visit.

Is this a dental emergency?

Certain dental issues are urgent and should be treated accordingly, while others can surely wait. It is very important to understand the difference, especially at night or over a weekend when you don’t have access to your regular dental office.

Here are some examples of dental problems in need of urgent care:

  • Excessive or persistent bleeding
  • If a permanent tooth becomes loose or gets knocked out
  • An injury to the jaw
  • Swelling
  • Painful or throbbing toothache

The above symptoms need to be treated right away. Your dentist may have an emergency number after hours. If not, visit your local emergency room.

The following concerns are not of an urgent nature:

  • Missing filling, bridge or crown
  • Cracked or broken tooth that isn’t causing pain
  • Broken retainer or night guard
  • Dull tooth pain

You should still contact your dentist regarding non-urgent care, but it is usually not necessary for you to be seen immediately.

How should I handle a dental emergency at home?

Depending on the problem, there are some steps that can be taken at home to remedy the situation and ease your pain. The first thing to do is remain calm. Anxiety will only make you feel worse.

Here is a list of tips you can do on your own to manage the pain caused by a dental emergency:

  • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of salt and warm water to reduce swelling and ease irritation.
  • If you lose a tooth, store it in a glass of milk until you can see your dentist.
  • If you have pain around one specific tooth, try flossing around it. Something may be lodged inside the gum or between teeth.
  • Place a cold compress on the swollen, bleeding or irritated area.
  • Rinse your mouth with hydrogen peroxide to ease irritation and kill bacteria.

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