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Managing Dental Emergencies at Home: First Aid Tips for Common Dental Emergencies

Emergencies do not come with a warning. A dental emergency is no different. From awful toothaches to front teeth trauma, dental emergencies can be agonizing, to say the least. The best solution is to seek immediate, professional dental care. But adequate dental first aid, offered on time can make a sea of difference by

  • preventing further damage to your teeth and gums
  • minimizing the risk of infection, and
  • offering immediate relief

Common dental emergencies involve knocked out teeth, lost dental fillings or crowns, a serious lip or tongue bite, and persistent toothaches.

Why First Aid Knowledge Matters in Dental Emergencies

Like any other emergency, time is of essence in a dental emergency too. Absence of first aid may result in blood and/or tooth loss, serious infection, and a great deal of physical, mental, and financial hardship. Quick, decisive action can save you from a great deal of pain and discomfort, and expensive dental treatment later.

Adequate first aid can relieve your pain, stop bleeding, and protect your tissues from further dental trauma. It also improves the odds of success in subsequent dental treatment.

Dental emergencies can be deeply traumatic, especially for children or people with dental anxiety. Dental first aid knowledge can help you stay calm, and provide reassurance and comfort until you can seek professional dental care. Appropriate first-aid measures can limit further damage, control bleeding, and prevent any serious infection.

Common Dental Emergencies and First Aid Techniques

Toothache

Most underlying dental conditions will result in a toothache. If you are suffering from a serious, persistent toothache, it is probably the sign of another dental issue, like a tooth cavity, gum infection, and dental trauma or injury. If your toothache doesn’t seem to go away, use the following dental first aid measures for immediate relief till you see a dentist.

  1. Identify the affected tooth.
  2. Floss around the tooth gently. It will help to dislodge any stuck objects.
  3. Do not floss vigorously.
  4. Get rid of any remaining particles by rinsing your mouth with lukewarm water.
  5. Apply ice outside the cheek (near the affected area) to ease swelling and pain.
  6. Take OTC medication to avoid more pain and discomfort till you are able to see a dentist.
  7. Do not apply heat. It can result in tissue damage.
  8. If you still experience pain in your tooth, or it gets worse, visit an emergency dental care clinic immediately.

Knocked-Out Tooth

If there is a dental emergency that qualifies for immediate professional attention, it is a knocked-out tooth. In case an adult or permanent tooth is knocked out, these dental first-aid steps should be followed until you seek emergency dental treatment.

  1. Hold the tooth by the crown if you can find it. Do not touch the root.
  2. Rinse the tooth with clean water. Neither scrub nor attempt to remove any attached tissue.
  3. Try gently reinserting the tooth into its socket. Cover with a clean cloth, if possible.
  4. If you fail to re-insert the tooth, place the tooth in a container with milk and take it to the dentist.
  5. Seek emergency dental care immediately. The tooth has a good chance of being successfully restored, if treated quickly.
  6. In case of primary tooth trauma or knocked-out baby tooth, reinsertion is not recommended. An attempt to reinsert the tooth may damage the child’s developing gum tissue. Instead, apply ice or a cold compress. It will help in reducing pain and swelling.
  7. Seek professional dental care immediately.

Object Stuck Between Teeth

Sometimes, you may experience discomfort or pain because of food or debris stuck between two teeth. In such cases, dental first-aid should include the following measures:

  1. Identify the teeth between which the object seems to be stuck.
  2. Floss between the teeth to remove the lodged object gently. You can also use an interdental brush.
  3. Do not try to remove the lodged food or debris with a sharp object. It can damage your teeth and gums.
  4. Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water to remove any remaining particles.
  5. If you still feel there’s something stuck between your teeth, or if you suffer from pain or swelling, it is a sign to seek immediate, professional dental care. Such pain could be the result of an abscess or impacted food.

Tongue or lip bites

You may accidentally bite your tongue or lip. If it starts bleeding, and you are wondering how to stop mouth bleeding, apply pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth. Lip swelling can be reduced by applying an ice pack. If the bleeding does not stop, visit the hospital ER right away.

Lost Filling or Crown

If you lose a dental filling or crown, the exposed tooth may result in root canal damage and tooth loss. It's vital to take immediate action to protect the exposed tooth and prevent further damage. Following first-aid steps can help:

  1. Find the missing crown or filling and store it in a clean, safe place.
  2. You can get temporary dental cement from a pharmacy. Apply the temporary dental cement to cover the affected tooth and protect the exposed area from further damage.
  3. If you can’t get temporary dental cement, put a piece of softened sugarless chewing gum on the affected tooth till you see a dentist.
  4. Avoid chewing on the affected side until your dentist allows.
  5. If you experience any sensitivity or pain in the affected tooth, apply ice or a cold compress and take over-the-counter pain medication.
  6. See your dentist as soon as possible to replace the filling or crown permanently.

Conclusion

Dental emergencies can be agonizing, but proper and timely first aid can make a huge difference to the outcome. Knowledge of dental first-aid, preparation and appropriate first aid can help you manage dental emergencies more effectively. It can help you prioritize your oral health and well-being.

Furthermore, you can prevent dental emergencies by:

  • not using your teeth as tools
  • wearing a mouthguard while playing a sport, and
  • practicing good oral hygiene

If you proactively take the measures described above in a dental emergency, you can reduce pain and avoid further damage to the affected area. It will also improve the chances of success in subsequent dental treatment.

However, it's important to remember that first aid measures are only temporary solutions and by no means, a replacement for professional dental care. In case of a dental emergency, immediate attention from your dentist or a local emergency dental clinic is a must. An experienced dentist possessed the expertise and resources to provide appropriate dental treatment and address the dental injury or underlying issue.

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