Did you know that dental emergencies account for over 2 million visits to the emergency department each year? While many cases result in patients being advised to seek dental treatment, some emergencies lead to hospitalization and more serious complications. Being prepared and knowing what to do during a dental emergency can save you time, money, and unnecessary visits to the hospital.
Here are some common dental emergencies and the recommended actions to take:
1. Broken Tooth: A broken tooth, often caused by blunt trauma, can be painful and result in bleeding. It's crucial to seek dental care promptly in such cases.
What to do: To alleviate pain, consider taking anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid eating extremely hot or cold foods and minimize chewing with the broken tooth until you receive emergency dental treatment.
2. Avulsed Tooth (Knocked Out): If a tooth gets knocked out due to trauma, especially in the front teeth, it's essential to keep the tooth alive for possible re-plantation by a dental or medical professional.
What to do: Rinse the avulsed tooth thoroughly with water and store it in a medium that preserves its vitality, such as saliva, under the tongue, or in a glass of cold milk. Re-plantation should ideally occur within an hour. Partially avulsed teeth must be repositioned by a dental professional to prevent further complications. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage pain and sensitivity.
3. Lost Filling or Crown: The loss of a filling or crown may initially cause minimal pain, but the underlying condition requires immediate attention. Decay around and under fillings or crowns is a common cause.
What to do: Seek dental treatment as soon as possible. Avoid using over-the-counter or temporary filling materials from unreliable sources, as they are not recognized by the American Dental Association. Refrain from consuming hot or cold foods and beverages and avoid chewing on the affected area.
4. Dental Abscess: Chronic dental infections can lead to dental abscesses and facial swelling, requiring urgent treatment. If you experience toothache accompanied by facial swelling, immediate dental or medical attention is necessary. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.
What to do: Report to the nearest dentist for urgent dental treatment at the first signs of tooth, jaw, or facial pain. If it occurs overnight, visit the nearest urgent care or emergency department. Avoid self-medicating, particularly with antibiotics, as specific infections require specific antibiotic treatment prescribed by a healthcare professional.
5. Bleeding and Pain After Extraction or Oral Surgery: After a dental extraction or oral surgery, some bleeding and pain are normal. However, excessive bleeding may require emergency medical attention.
What to do: If bleeding continues excessively after an extraction or oral surgery, contact your treating dental provider immediately. If you can't reach your dentist or physician, visit the nearest emergency department. Applying pressure with clean gauze or a tea bag can help control bleeding. Follow the post-surgery instructions provided by your dental provider carefully.
Remember, in dental emergencies, seeking professional dental care is crucial. By taking prompt action and following these guidelines, you can better handle dental emergencies and prevent further complications.