Dental emergencies can happen to anyone. Don’t panic! Depending on the severity, there are measures you can take before seeing a dentist that can help your situation. The first step is to always call your dentist’s office to see if they have any emergency slots available or if they’d advise you to go to the emergency room first. If your accident or emergency happens outside of office hours or at night, leave a message at the dentist’s office and depending on the urgency of the matter, you may or may not want to consider an urgent care visit.
You Knocked Out a Tooth
Your first thought is “oh no, I’m going to look terrible!” but rest assured, there are many solutions for chipped or broken teeth that will look completely natural. This could mean you will need an implant to fill the gap where the tooth was broken or knocked out. Some people attempt to replant their tooth if they can stick it back in and save the structure of the tooth until they can visit the dentist for a root canal to remove the damaged nerve.
If you knock your tooth out and are able to find it, pick it up by the crown, not by the root! If you damage the root, it will make preimplantation harder. For adult teeth, try placing the tooth back into its socket. Make sure it’s facing the correct way. Make sure you see a dentist or head to the emergency within the hour for best results.
You’ve Chipped, Cracked, or Broken a Tooth
Whether these accidents come from force trauma or from biting into something hard, these situations are much more common than most people would think. Don’t panic! If your tooth is still in place, and you are not in any pain, you have some time to get to the dentist for a repair. If there’s a small crack in the tooth, it can be fixed by using a filling. If it’s a larger break or crack, chances are you will need a crown to cap the original tooth with a very realistic looking attachment. If the tooth root is broken below the gum line and cannot be salvaged, an implant can be placed there instead.
If you’ve cracked a tooth and have to wait several days before you can see a dentist, be sure to avoid all direct contact with food or drink to allow the area to stay clean and remineralize with the mouth’s own saliva. Using your smartphone, offer to send your dentist an image of the tooth, if possible to help determine whether you may need a filling, crown, or something else at your appointment. Otherwise, plan on going in for a consult and returning for your procedure.
Your Face is Swollen
This is not to be taken lightly, but don’t panic. Most often there is a dental infection, and it needs to be seen by a dentist or doctor immediately. These kinds of situations do not resolve themselves, and because of the proximity to the brain, it could become more serious very quickly, even potentially fatal. The swelling is usually caused by an infected tooth, bone infection, or gum infection. If you are not able to go to a dentist, go immediately to the closest emergency room. Do not lie down! This could make things much more worse for you. Drink plenty of fluids and keep yourself hydrated before you can be seen by a medical professional.
Bleeding From the Mouth
This situation can be scary and mean a spectrum of different things. What you’re dealing with could be a chronic or acute condition that has come on suddenly. If the bleeding is mostly occurring during flossing, it may be a sign of gingivitis or inflamed gums. However, if blood is in tour saliva, it could be something much more serious. It’s not entirely normal to bleed from the mouth unless there is an open wound or abrasion. If you’ve had an extraction that won’t stop bleeding, seek emergency care. If you don’t know where the bleeding is coming from, you should also speak to a medical professional as soon as possible.
In some cases, bleeding can even be caused by forms of mouth cancer, so it’s nothing to push aside. If the bleeding is heavy, keep your head elevated and do not lie down. Call for a dentist or oral surgeon right away if you’re experiencing this bleeding after a dental procedure. Do not go to sleep if the bleeding is still occurring; there is a chance of aspiration, which can be deadly.
You Have an Abscess
If you notice a whitish yellow, clear, or red kind of pustule on your gum, you probably have a small infection on the tooth or gum line. This most often leads to a root canal or extraction. In many cases, this also needs to be treated with antibiotics after x-rays confirm what is going on beneath the surface. These infections can lead to permanent gum recession so the sooner you tend to the matter, the better off you will be. Make an appointment with a dentist immediately. Do not touch the abscess! Continue to brush and floss the area normally without disrupting the pustule.
If the abscess is on the tooth, it’s possible that you have a pulpal abscess, but if the tooth is very sensitive to hot or cold, or giving you pain, it’s very possible that the tooth is dying and will require a root canal and cap.
If you’ve had a serious fall and may have injured your jaw, mouth, or teeth, don’t risk waiting it out. Go to the emergency room to make sure you haven’t seriously injured yourself. Depending on how soon you are seen by a medical professional, you may be able to save damaged teeth. Always keep your dentist’s emergency number stored in your phone or somewhere in your home where others can access it.