How to handle a dental emergency

Dental emergencies can take many shapes and can arrive when you least expect them. Preparing yourself for a dental emergency can be vital in saving a tooth or your smile and preventing costly dental treatment afterwards.

The most common dental emergencies are:

Injured tooth: Sometimes a fall or collision with another person or object can cause fracture of the tooth. The first step would be to call your dentist and seek the earliest appointment possible. Describe the fracture to your dentist over the phone and seek advice. If the fracture has been restricted to a few millimeters at the edge of your tooth, then reshaping and build up with dental composite will suffice. If the fracture has involved the pulp, then root canal treatment and dental crowns will be needed. Pain killers can help control the pain until you reach the dentist’s clinic. Dental veneers can also help mask fractures in teeth. Visit your cosmetic dentist in Plano for further information.

Knocked out tooth: Sometimes severe collisions can partially or completely dislodge a tooth from its socket. If the tooth has completely fallen of, try to recover the tooth, hold the tooth by the top (do not touch the roots), inspect it for damage, clean the tooth from debris under slow running water and store it in a glass of cold milk or in the patient’s own saliva. Alternatively, you can store it in the patient’s cheek. Do not scrub away the debris on the dislodged tooth you’re your fingers or a cloth.  Visit your dentist immediately. Bite hard on piece of cotton gauze after washing your mouth to control the bleeding. The dentist will replace the tooth and place splints to promote healing. Once the tooth has stabilized, a root canal will be needed. A partially knocked out tooth should be pushed back onto the socket in the correct position. If you are unable to reposition the tooth, avoid applying too much pressure and visit your dentist immediately. Take some pain killers to reduce the pain.

Severe pain: Pain can be caused by a dislodged filling or decay irritating the pulp. Hot or cold water and food can irritate the pulp causing pain. Use dental floss or toothpick to dislodge the food particle. Wash your mouth with warm salt water intermittently to reduce pain. Painkillers (e.g. ibuprofen) can also help control pain. Place an ice pack on your cheeks for 10-20 minutes per hour when the pain becomes severe. Zinc oxide eugenol temporary filling material available at your local pharmacist can be used to stop irritation of the pulp. The eugenol (clove oil) within the filling material acts as a sedative. Alternatively, cotton balls soaked in clove oil can be pushed into the tooth to help reduce pain. If the filling has been dislodged, try to retrieve the lost filling and replace it back into its original position. If it is not staying in position, apply petroleum jelly to the filling and try again. Visit your Plano dentist at the earliest available appointment.

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