It happens when you least expect it. Perhaps you’re on vacation, and you bite down on something too hard, and it breaks a tooth. Or, you wake up in the middle of the night with pain in an area of the mouth that won’t let up. In many instances, these can wait until you can make a regular appointment with your dentist. Other times, however, it’s clearly a dental emergency, and seeking out your dentist as quickly as possible is the best solution. Here are five dental emergencies that need immediate attention.
Pain is always a sign that something in your body is trying to get your attention. Toothaches can range from bearable to severe, so when do you need to treat them as a dental emergency?
Consider the source of your toothache, from teeth grinding while you sleep to the development of a cavity. Also, notice if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as a high fever.
Try rinsing out your mouth with warm water and gently floss the area where the pain is coming from. It’s possible that a piece of food has been trapped and is leading to irritation. If not, and the pain continues in severity, it’s time to seek help. A dentist can determine the cause then offer a treatment. This may include pain medications, tooth extraction, or other necessary procedure.
2. Cracked, Chipped or Broken Tooth
Often, biting down on nuts or other hard items can cause you to crack, chip, or break a natural tooth. Use warm water to rinse out that area of your mouth immediately. To keep swelling at bay, apply a cold compress to the side of your mouth where the injured tooth is located. For pain, take an over the counter pain reliever. Your dentist may determine you need a filling or a more serious treatment, such as a root canal.
3. Abscessed Tooth
Pain while chewing or biting down may be due to an abscessed tooth. Use your finger to feel around the tooth to see if there is a cushy bump in the gum area. This is a sign of a potential abscess and needs to be examined by your dentist as soon as possible. Other signs may include fever, swelling, and sensitivity to cold or heat. Try using salty water to rinse out your mouth several times to relieve some of the discomfort. Since this is an infection, it can easily spread to the jaw and other body parts, so it’s imperative you seek emergency care.
4. Lost Tooth
Whether a tooth comes loose while eating or is knocked out completely, you’ll need emergency help. While pain and bleeding may occur, you need to stay focused. If you can find the tooth, carefully pick it up without touching the roots, and place it in a glass of milk. You need to keep the overall tooth moist.
Call your dentist immediately. The longer the tooth is out, the more difficult it will be to save. If reached in time, your dentist may be able to reinsert it into place. The key here is quick action in order to avoid needing a dental implant.
If the tooth that comes out is a crown, try placing it back in its place with a dab of over-the-counter dental cement.
5. Jaw Issues
It’s not just the teeth that cause a dental emergency, but the jaw can do so as well. This may be in the form of severe jaw pain or a painful fracture. If there is increased swelling, it could be an infection. Regardless of why it happens, you’ll need to seek emergency care. Start with placing an ice pack near the jaw, then get to your dentist’s office as soon as you can.
Keep these five dental emergencies in mind so you’ll know what to do next if they happen to you or someone you know.