Dental Emergency? Follow These Four Steps
A dental emergency is any injury or condition that needs the immediate attention of a dentist. These emergencies can strike at any time, and you need to be prepared. Here are four steps you should take if you find yourself in need of emergency dental care.
Don't go to the hospital.
If you're having a dental emergency, you should call your dentist immediately. If they're unavailable because you're trying to reach them outside their normal office hours, you should try to seek alternate care. However, you're better off not going to the hospital. Dental emergencies require a dentist who is licensed to practice dentistry. Most emergency rooms don't staff dentists, so the doctors there will be unable to help you.
The exception to this rule is when you're experiencing facial swelling due to a tooth abscess. Swelling indicates a severe infection that could travel to your brain and become fatal. An emergency room doctor can administer fast-acting intravenous antibiotics to cure your infection. They can also give you stronger painkillers to help you manage your discomfort.
Only apply oral medication topically.
Pain is the first symptom of many dental problems, and oral pain can be severe. You may take oral pain medication according to the directions on the label. Don't exceed the maximum dosage in order to protect your stomach and liver. If the maximum allowable dosage doesn't bring you pain relief, you can apply topical analgesics made for oral use. These can provide soothing relief directly to the affected area. Never crush acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin and place it on your tooth or gums, since this can cause chemical burns and irritation.
Save tooth fragments or loose teeth.
If your tooth was broken or knocked out in an accident, save it and bring it to your dentist. They may be able to reattach the missing piece or the entire tooth if you get to their office in a timely manner. Keep the tooth clean and moist. The inside of your mouth is an ideal place to store the tooth until you can get to the dentist, as long as you're careful not to swallow it. If this isn't an option, you can also place the tooth or tooth fragments in a small glass of milk for safekeeping.
Call an emergency dentist.
If you're experiencing severe pain or oral trauma, call an emergency dentist right away. These dentists are on call to help you whenever a dental emergency strikes. They can provide timely dental care that can relieve your pain and save teeth that might have otherwise been unsalvageable. Your regular dentist may be able to recommend an emergency dentist to you.