Dental emergencies can occur at any time and often without warning. Whether it’s a severe toothache, a cracked tooth, or sudden tooth loss, knowing how to handle a dental emergency can reduce your discomfort and save your tooth.
Dealing With a Severe Toothache
Excruciating tooth pain can be debilitating and is often the first sign of a dental emergency. Rinsing your mouth with warm, salty water can help ease the pain temporarily and flush out any debris.
Over-the-counter pain relievers and topical anesthetics can also provide temporary relief. However, these measures are only temporary; you need to see your dentist as soon as possible to address the cause of the toothache, which may range from deep root decay to a dental abscess.
Addressing a Cracked or Broken Tooth
A cracked or broken tooth is a common dental emergency. If you sustain a broken or cracked tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Apply a cold compress to the cheek or lips over the broken tooth to help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Temporary dental cement or wax found at a drug store can also be used to protect the tooth until you can visit your dentist. You can also place sugar-free gum over the jagged tooth edge to prevent damaging the soft tissue inside your mouth.
Managing a Knocked-Out Tooth
A knocked-out tooth is a critical dental emergency. If you can, try to the tooth and pick it up by the crown, but do not touch the tooth’s root. Rinse it with clean water without scrubbing to remove any dirt, but do not remove any attached tissues.
If possible, try to place the tooth back in the socket, but don’t force it. If that’s not possible, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or saline solution) and bring it to your dentist immediately. The sooner a knocked-out tooth is reinserted, the higher the chances of saving your smile.
A dental abscess, a severe and potentially life-threatening condition, requires immediate attention. Signs of an abscess include a severe, persistent toothache, sensitivity to temperature, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.
Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution made from ½ teaspoon of salt mixed with 8 ounces of water several times a day to ease pain and draw the pus to the surface. Ensure you visit a dentist immediately to have the abscess properly treated with surgical drainage and antibiotics.
Handling Lost Fillings
When you lose a filling, the exposed tooth tissue may be sensitive or painful. You might feel a sharp edge where the filling was or notice a hole in your tooth.
Rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any remaining fragments. If you’re experiencing pain, applying a little clove oil on a cotton pad to the sensitive area can help; this is available in most drug stores.
To protect your tooth and reduce discomfort, you can use over-the-counter dental cement or temporary filling material to fill the gap until you can see your dentist.
It’s crucial to contact your dentist as soon as possible to arrange for a permanent filling replacement. Ignoring a lost filling could lead to further tooth decay and pain.
Seek Immediate Dental Attention
All dental emergencies require immediate professional attention. Even if home remedies temporarily relieve the pain, contact your dentist for urgent care to prevent further complications.Return to Blog