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Dental emergencies can be quite painful and very often distressing. Even if you're practicing good dental care and preventing longer-term problems, knowing what to do when a dental emergency hits is important to maintaining good oral health.
What are the most common dental emergencies? Do you know how to deal with them? Getting a quick response and the proper first aid treatment can prevent long-term damage and help you keep your teeth healthy.
Having a toothache is never a good thing. Some toothaches can be managed without needing emergency treatment, while tooth pain that includes swelling requires urgent attention.
When you have a toothache, try to avoid using common remedies like aspirin or other painkillers because contact with any affected gums can burn the tissue. Instead, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek and call a dental clinic to schedule emergency care.
If you accidentally bit down on something a little too hard and chipped or broke a tooth, that's going to hurt. Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a piece of gauze to the area that's bleeding. Then hold a cold compress to the part of your face closest to the broken or chipped tooth to help relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Avoid chewing hard and crunchy foods, including ice, as well as participating in sports and other activities that increase the risks of breaking or chipping your teeth.
If a tooth gets knocked out, pick it up by the crown - the exposed part - and only rinse the root off if it's dirty. Avoid scrubbing and removing any still-attached tissue fragments.
Depending on the injury, you may be able to gently re-place the tooth, but don't push it back into the socket. Doing this within the hour will improve your chances of saving a knocked-out tooth and being able restore it in place.
If you can't reinsert the tooth, put it in a small cup of milk, or water with a pinch of salt. This will help preserve the tooth while you're scheduling emergency dental treatment with your dentist.
If you've previously had a crown or filling applied to a damaged tooth and it breaks, you should get it treated right away to avoid further damage or re-infection. Place the broken-off restoration in a plastic sandwich bag and bring it to your dentist to reapply or to be fitted with a new crown.
Infections in the mouth are serious, especially if they're near the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. If left untreated, these infections can spread to surrounding teeth and gum tissue, and even to the rest of your body.
If the pain is coming from a swollen gum area, it could indicate that you have an abscess. Rinse your mouth with a warm saltwater solution and apply ice to the swollen area for temporary relief before calling your dentist to schedule emergency treatment.
Tooth extractions can also cause some post-op pain and bleeding, but it persists over an hour, you should call your dentist for guidance. Placing a thick gauze pad over the extraction site and gently applying some pressure by biting down on the gauze can help. Also, try to avoid eating, drinking and rinsing your mouth, as well as using a straw, spitting and smoking.
If for any reason you're feeling pain in your mouth, teeth or gums, call your dentist as soon as possible to have the problem quickly diagnosed and treated.
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