When you realize something is wrong in your mouth, it’s natural to feel worried or afraid. After all, it’s difficult to see inside your mouth and often dental emergencies are accompanied by pain, discomfort, or bleeding.
While visiting a dentist for a professional assessment is always best, dental emergencies can happen to anyone at any time — including times when you’re far from a dental office or when offices are closed. The good news is that you can help to alleviate your symptoms at home.
Dr. Richard Hardt and Dr. Lawryn Monterroso at Richard Hardt, DDS in Porterville, California, have put together this guide to help you handle the most common dental emergencies. In addition, the office offers comprehensive, same-day emergency dentistry services to get you back to smiling fast.
Chipped or broken teeth
A chipped or broken tooth is one of the most common dental emergencies. Teeth can become damaged or injured in many ways, from biting down on a hard piece of food to banging your mouth during a sports game. Sometimes, when a tooth breaks or cracks, the pulp or root can be exposed, which causes pain and increases the risk of infection.
Call us immediately if your tooth is broken or cracked. Delaying treatment increases your risk of losing the tooth. If possible, save the chipped or broken pieces as Dr. Hardt and Dr. Monterroso can sometimes salvage them.
While you wait for your appointment, you can take over-the-counter pain medicine to reduce discomfort. In addition, you can use ice packs to reduce any swelling to your face.
Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of the tooth or in the gums. They are a serious condition that can spread and damage other tissue and teeth if not treated, and leaving an abscess untreated can lead to life-threatening complications.
If you develop an abscess, call to schedule an appointment at Richard Hardt, DDS, as soon as possible. If you’re on vacation and away from the area, call a local dentist or visit the emergency room.
While you wait, rinse your mouth with salt water several times a day to ease the discomfort and draw the infection toward the surface of the gums. You can also take over-the-counter pain medicine to help with swelling and pain.
Knocked out or loose permanent tooth
When a permanent tooth is knocked out or becomes loose, it can be very scary. The good news is that it’s sometimes possible to save the tooth. Follow these steps to increase the chances of keeping your natural tooth.
Recover the tooth, taking care not to touch the root. Rinse the tooth in cold water, and make an appointment as soon as possible. In the meantime, try putting the tooth back into the empty space, and hold it in place until you reach the office. If putting the tooth back isn’t possible, place it in milk for transport.
Damaged or missing dental work
Over time, fillings and crowns can become loose and sometimes fall out. It’s important to schedule an appointment to have the work repaired as soon as possible.
If you realize a crown or filling is coming loose, try to catch it to avoid swallowing it. When a crown falls out, Dr. Hardt and Dr. Monterroso can sometimes re-use it, so be sure to save it and bring it with you to your appointment.
While you wait for your appointment, use denture cream or a small amount of toothpaste to temporarily replace the crown and protect your underlying tooth. Be sure not to bite down hard or chew on the affected side.
Injury to soft tissue
The soft tissue of the mouth includes the tongue, cheeks, lips, and gums. When soft tissue is injured, the result is usually bleeding, This can make it difficult to see the extent of the injury, so it’s important to control the bleeding first.
To staunch soft tissue bleeding, rinse with salt water, then use gauze to apply pressure to the injured area. If you don’t have gauze handy, use an unused tea bag instead. Hold the gauze or tea bag in place for 20 minutes. You can also apply a cold compress to your cheek outside the injured area for 10 minutes, which helps stop bleeding and relieves pain.
If the bleeding doesn’t stop, see a dentist immediately or visit the emergency room if one isn’t available. While you wait, be sure to apply pressure to the injured area.
Are you experiencing a dental emergency?
If you or someone in your family is experiencing a dental emergency, follow the tips above and be sure to call or schedule a visit with the providers at Richard Hardt, DDS in Porterville as soon as possible to ensure the best care possible.