Just like medical emergencies can occur at any time without warning, so can dental emergencies. Unlike medical emergencies, however, the process of what to do during a dental emergency is not as well known. When a dental emergency occurs, one of the first things you should do is call our office for further instructions. In the meantime, we have provided a step by step guide on what to do in the case of a dental emergency.
Emergencies often require immediate attention and can be addressed the same day. We are open Monday- Friday, and Saturdays for appointments and can be reached by email or phone, 7 days a week, for immediate attention.
Did You Know?
Many people believe they need to visit the emergency room when experiencing dental pain. In 2010 alone, as many as 2.1 million Americans visited an emergency room seeking treatment for dental pain. However, emergency rooms are not the best place for dental emergencies. Rather, your dentist’s office is more equipped to deal with this type of emergency.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I have a dental emergency?
Generally speaking, a dental emergency is any type of dental issue that requires immediate treatment. Now, this is somewhat of a broad definition, so let’s take a look at some specifics. Listed below are some examples of things that can be considered dental emergencies:
- Chronic or sudden toothache
- Cracked, chipped, or broken teeth
- Knocked out tooth
- Dental infection
- Food or foreign object lodged between teeth
- Soft tissue damage resulting in excessive bleeding
- Dental restorations that have become loose or fallen out
Not only does the type of dental issue help to determine if a dental emergency is occurring, but the severity of the issue also matters. For example, a tooth that has a minor chip may require timely care, but a tooth that is fractured down to the root or that has been knocked out will require immediate care. Additionally, cases that are extremely painful are considered to be dental emergencies because we don’t want our patients suffering longer than they need to. If you are in pain or if you believe you have a dental emergency, call our office.
What do I do in the case of a dental emergency?
There are a few ways to respond to a dental emergency that promote the best outcome. It is important to note that these guidelines are in no way meant to serve as a replacement for professional dental treatment. Rather they are simple steps that you can take until a dental professional can be seen.
Broken or Knocked Out Teeth:
For broken teeth, you want to recover any pieces that may have fallen off if you can. For knocked out teeth, you will want to be sure to only handle the tooth by the crown, or the portion of the tooth that is normally above the gum line. In both cases, you will want to very carefully rinse the tooth or tooth fragments in warm water and then keep the tooth or tooth fragments moist until your appointment. You will also want to rinse your mouth with warm water as well.
For toothaches, we recommend first rinsing your mouth with warm water and then carefully flossing between each tooth to check for debris that may have become lodged in between teeth. Never use sharp objects or anything besides floss to attempt and dislodge an item from between your teeth.
Soft Tissue Damage:
For soft tissue damage, first rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any debris and clean the area. If bleeding occurs, use gauze or a tea bag and hold pressure to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes. The caffeine present in tea bags can help the blood to clot faster and slow down the bleeding. If the bleeding is still excessive after 20 minutes, you should seek care from an emergency room.
Can I do anything to manage my pain?
Depending on the type and extent of the dental emergency, you may experience varying levels of discomfort. To manage this discomfort, we recommend using a cold compress for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Not only will this relieve discomfort, but it will also manage possible swelling as well.
In some cases, using over the counter dental anesthetics may help to alleviate the discomfort associated with toothaches. Over the counter dental anesthetics generally use benzocaine, which is a local anesthetic that blocks nerve signals in the body. Essentially, the anesthetic will block the nerve signal responsible for pain and keep you comfortable.
If the discomfort is excessive and over the counter pain medications are used, we recommend using acetaminophen. Both aspirin and ibuprofen have been known to thin the blood, which can cause excess bleeding, especially in the case of soft tissue injuries.
How can I prevent future dental emergencies from occurring?
As mentioned before, some dental emergencies are unavoidable and simply just happen. However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent or minimize future dental emergencies.
For starters, you and your family should have a dental first aid kit. This can either be a unique kit or it can be incorporated into your medical first aid kit. An ideal dental first aid kit will contain the following emergency dental supplies:
- Exam gloves
- Dental mirror
- Small flashlight (for looking inside the mouth)
- A small container (for storing a missing tooth or pieces)
- Temporary dental restoration material
- Dental wax
- Spare toothbrush
- Sterile gauze
- Tea bags
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Clove oil
- Ice pack
- Oral anesthetic
- Pain medication
Another thing you will want to do to prevent dental emergencies is to avoid behaviors that can damage your teeth. Some examples of damaging behaviors include nail biting, chewing on ice or pens, smoking, and using your teeth to open packages. Although your teeth are extremely strong, they are not indestructible and these behaviors put a specific type of stress on your teeth that they are not meant for. This can cause them to become chipped, cracked, or broken.
It is also important to take precautionary measures if you play sports that have a risk of injury to your mouth or if you grind or clench your teeth. Both can be addressed by being fit for a dental mouth guard. A sports mouth guard is used while playing sports and will protect your teeth and gums from impact damage. A night guard, on the other hand, is often only worn at night to protect your teeth from being clenched too tight or from grinding against one another.
Finally, you can prevent dental emergencies by keeping your teeth as healthy as possible. Teeth that are decayed are more likely to become damaged or infected when compared to healthy teeth. Brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time and flossing once a day will help prevent tooth decay and keep your teeth strong. Additionally, regular dental cleanings and visits will ensure that your mouth is in the best condition possible.
Contact Your Midtown NY Dental Professionals Today
Don’t have an aching tooth any longer. Contact your dentist and work with them to return you to a comfortable, pain-free experience. With treatment, you’ll be able to get back to enjoying your favorite foods without pain and return to a normal life. Isn’t it time you put an end to dental sensitivity? Contact your dentist today to arrange a consultation and start down the road to pain-free teeth!