How to Handle a Dental Emergency
The primary aim of emergency dental treatment is to relieve pain, stop bleeding and save a tooth wherever possible. Sometimes the speed with which you respond can make the difference as to whether or not it is successful in doing so.
You should call your local dentist immediately if you have severe pain; bleeding; or a swollen jaw, chin or cheeks. Also act quickly if you have had a blow to the face; if a tooth has been knocked out; or if a tooth is loose. Lumps or pimples on your gums, or severe pain when you bite down on a tooth could indicate an abscess and could be extremely dangerous. Seek medical help at the dentist or hospital emergency straightaway.
What to do while awaiting treatment
Pain relief for severe toothache: Use an ice pack on the outside of your mouth to relieve the pain and take a painkiller. DO NOT make matters worse by applying heat in the form of a hot water bottle or heating pad, and don’t put the painkiller directly on the tooth.
Saving a chipped or broken tooth: If the chip or break is small it may only require a filling. If it is more serious, your dentist may perform a root canal and apply a crown or cap to the top of the tooth.
If you’ve had a tooth knocked out: Act immediately if you want to save your tooth as time is of the essence. Speedy action can usually save it. If the tooth seems clean and you’re sure you won’t swallow it, you can try and replace it yourself while getting to your dentist quickly. Avoid touching the root and gently place it back in the socket. If that doesn’t work, put the tooth in some milk in a container and take it with you to the dentist.
If your tooth is still in your mouth, but is loose or has been knocked out of alignment, get an emergency appointment with your dentist. You can also try to put the tooth back in position by very gently trying to move it back into place yourself. Be sure not to force it as this may dislodge it completely.
A bitten lip or tongue can bleed profusely. To try and stop any bleeding, press on the affected area with a clean cloth or piece of gauze. Use an ice-pack if the area is swollen. If you can’t stop the bleeding, get to the hospital as quickly as you can.
When something is stuck between your teeth, try to gently dislodge it, using dental floss. Be very careful not to use anything hard or sharp that could damage your gums or the enamel on your teeth, and do not try to poke it out roughly. If you can’t dislodge the item, see your dentist.
A lost filling will have to be replaced by your dentist. Protect your tooth in the short-term by softening a piece of sugarless chewing gum and putting it in where the filling was before it fell out.