What to Do When a Dental Emergency Occurs

In an emergency, acting fast can help stave off even the worst outcomes. This is especially true for dental disasters, where thinking quickly may mean the difference between a lost tooth or a lovely smile! If the worst should happen and your or a loved one’s teeth are accidentally damaged, knowing the right steps can save dentition, or at least make repairs much easier. Here are a few tips to show you what to do when a dental emergency occurs.

From intense pain to missing molars, there are quite a few events that constitute a dental crisis. At the Meredith G. Davis dental office in Richardson, TX, we want all of our patients to know what to do when they need help the most. If you’re in the area and need immediate attention, call us right away for a same-day emergency appointment

Emergency Care = ER?

There are times when you just need to be seen right away. While Meredith G. Davis, DDS offices are available at all hours, you might not be in a position to give our doctors a call. For late-night crisis situations, or those that occur well away from the Richardson, TX area, you should proceed directly to the emergency room. ER doctors may not have the expertise that you’d find at the dentist, they do have the skills necessary to save your tooth. 

An emergency room visit might also be a good idea if there is possibly more harm than can be seen during an initial examination. While a child’s tooth may be loose from a bad fall, it may be an indication that an underlying jaw fracture is at the root of the problem! However, choosing to see a dentist for tooth-related emergencies is often the best choice as they have the best equipment and know-how to tackle even the worst problems.

Emergency Dental Visits

From losing a tooth to severe jaw pain, there are a number of reasons why you might need to see a dentist in an emergency. Upon arrival, your doctor will need to assess the situation with a precursory visual examination as well as x-rays. This will give the dentist a better understanding of hope to repair the problem. Emergency dental visits can help take care of many critical issues, including:

  • Missing teeth
  • Abscess
  • Dislodged crown or filling
  • Damaged veneers
  • Loose teeth
  • Toothache/oral pain relief
  • Basic orthodontic repair

Even though you may have come in for one reason, your dentist might find other problems that lie under the surface. A sports injury that resulted in a lost tooth may also have damaged other teeth, and cracks and chips will need to be repaired as well. Your dentist will try and alleviate your discomfort as soon as possible, too, because it is much easier to make important medical decisions when not being distracted by pain! 

Knocked-Out Teeth

One of the most common dental emergencies occurs when a person loses a tooth. Whether it be from a fall or sporting event, getting a tooth knocked out can turn into a crisis if you aren’t calm and act fast. If you or a loved one has had their tooth knocked out, there are a few steps you can take to help your dentist correct the issue.

  • Don’t Touch the Root: If you are able to find the tooth, try to grab it by the biting surface instead of the root. Touching the delicate root structure may damage it, making it difficult to repair.
  • Gently Rinse With Water: If the tooth is dirty, don’t attempt to scrub the grime away. Simply rinse it under gently running water to clean it off as best you can, avoiding using any cleaning agents in the process. Don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth either, as foreign fibers may get attached and cause an infection later on!
  • Attempt to Reinsert the Tooth: The best place to keep a tooth safe is in the mouth it came from. Try to reset the tooth in its original position if possible. Gentle pressure may allow it to slip back into place, as will gently biting down. Once it’s back, keep the mouth closed to ensure it won’t slip out and head to the dentist right away!
  • Keep the Area Moist: Whether in its owner’s mouth or a glass of milk, you’ll want to keep the tooth from drying out. Reinserting the tooth is best, but you can also tuck it into the cheek, or submerge it in milk to help maintain cellular integrity. Water is a poor choice as it can cause damage to the roots if tooth roots are exposed for a prolonged period of time.
  • See a Doctor Immediately: Most teeth can be saved if the patient is assessed by a doctor within 30 minutes of getting knocked out. Even so, skilled dentists may be able to reinsert dentition if it has been out for over an hour!

Losing a tooth can be a very stressful experience. Take the time to preserve the missing dentition and call our offices right away for emergency service. Even if your tooth cannot be reinserted successfully, our knowledgeable staff can still help repair your smile!

Child Dental Emergencies

Children may see having a tooth knocked out as another opportunity for change from the tooth fairy, but parents understand that a couple of quarters is no replacement for missing dentition. Permanent teeth that are lost due to trauma can be taken care of just as you would if an adult lost a tooth. Taking care to pick it up by the pulp and preserve it in milk will go a long way to ensure the child has a full set of teeth for years to come.

Adolescents’ jaws are still growing and can heal much more easily, but reinserting an adult tooth is different than taking care of a baby one. In fact, if the entire tooth has come out you may not need to do anything else. If it looks like there may still be some pieces remaining at or below the gum line, it’s necessary to bring your child to see a dentist regardless. This will help make sure no fragments become infected or get in the way of the child’s natural oral development.

Breaks and Cracks

Patients can crack their teeth from biting down on something hard or via accidental injury. These conditions may reveal part of the tooth’s interior, leading to severe sensitivity to heat and cold thanks to exposed nerves. Acting quickly may not only save the tooth but might also keep you from needing a root canal.

To clean the area, patients should rinse with warm saltwater. This will also help to reduce swelling and pain in the affected area. A cold compress can help to ease discomfort as well. If a piece of the tooth has broken off completely, try and salvage it if you can by treating it just like a lost tooth. 

Abscesses and Toothaches

An infection that occurs below the gum can cause a lot of pain and may appear as an abscess in the mouth. Though it may look like a pimple, it is really a sign that the root system has become infected and inflamed, which may indicate you need to repair the damage with a root canal. Rinse with saltwater and do not attempt to pierce the abscess as that might cause more harm to the area.

Tooth pain can be caused by a host of other reasons as well.  Attempt to floss around the area to loosen anything that may have become lodged in the dentition. If discomfort persists, take an over-the-counter pain reliever and schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Don’t try and place aspirin directly onto your tooth as it can cause severe damage to the root and gums.

Excessive Bleeding

Unless a tooth has been knocked out or has become severely loosened, most dental problems won’t cause excessive bleeding. Trauma that might cause dentition to become cracked, loose or knocked out can result in a host of other mouth-related issues as well. Apply a cold compress to a cut lip or tongue, and if the injury is severe enough you should head to the Emergency Room right away.

Dental surgery with persistent bleeding is another matter entirely. Patients who have undergone recent surgery should return to the practicing dentist right away as this could be a sign of other complications. In addition, if there is other pain and swelling not directly associated with teeth, such as thinking your jaw may be broken, don’t hesitate to see a professional immediately!

When you’re in the midst of a dental emergency, knowing what to do is priceless. As the dental offices of Meredith G. Davis, DDS, we know how important it is to have someone you can rely on in a crisis. If you need to know what to do when a dental emergency occurs, call us right away and our staff will help you get a handle on your situation!

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