Most people know what to do in case of a medical emergency. We learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR in high school; we have children and become pros at cleaning cuts and scraped knees. Dental emergencies are another story, though. Other than putting it in milk, do you know what to do when a tooth has been knocked out? What about when a crown falls off? This quick guide from a Long Island emergency dentist will give you the basics on how to handle 4 common dental emergencies.
Knocked Out Tooth
We know it's easier said than done, but don't panic. Knocking out a tooth is dramatic and scary, but in most cases, it's simple for us to fix.
If your child has knocked out a baby tooth, focus on stopping the bleeding. Use a clean, wet washcloth or piece of gauze to apply pressure to the gum. Finding the tooth is not important; if your child is at an age where he or she would be close to losing the tooth, we probably won't replace it. For younger children, we often use a space retainer to prevent other teeth from shifting into the open space.
With an adult tooth, your goals are two-fold: first, to stop the bleeding, and second, to find, clean, and preserve the tooth that has been knocked out. It's critical to keep your tooth moist; if it's been knocked out, but it's still in your mouth, use a clean hand to gently insert the tooth back into the socket, avoiding touching the root. If the tooth has fallen on the floor or elsewhere, grab it by the crown (again, not the root) and rinse any debris with milk or saliva, then place the tooth back into the socket.
In cases where the tooth cannot be reinserted, the American Dental Association recommends placing it in your mouth, between the cheek and gums, or in a small cup of milk to keep it wet. Once you have the situation under control, call our office and we will make room in our schedule to see you as soon as possible. If our office is closed, listen to the message and follow the instructions given.
Chipped or Cracked Tooth
If you've chipped a tooth, find the piece that broke off (if you can), then place it in a small cup of milk. Often, the piece of tooth can be reattached; if not, there are a few cosmetic options to restore the appearance of your tooth, like bonding with tooth-colored resin or veneers. Cracked teeth can also be restored with bonding or by placing a crown when damage is significant.
Whether a tooth is chipped or cracked, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area and apply a cold compress if needed for pain and swelling. Call our office to make an appointment.
There are many potential causes for toothaches; one common cause that's easy to treat yourself is having something lodged between two teeth. You might not even know that's the source of your pain, but you can check by rinsing with warm water and flossing on either side of the painful tooth.
If that didn't help, take an over-the-counter painkiller to dull the pain and use cold compresses to treat any swelling and inflammation. Make an appointment to see us as soon as possible so we can examine your tooth and provide treatment.
Lost Filling or Crown
When you lose a filling, it's important to cover your tooth to protect it from further damage and prevent pain. Use temporary dental cement, available at most pharmacies, or in a pinch, press a piece of sugarless gum onto the tooth surface. With a crown, you can place it back on the tooth, using dental cement or even toothpaste to keep it secure.
In either situation, take over-the-counter painkillers for any pain and sensitivity, then call our office for an emergency appointment to get your restoration replaced.
Call Our Massapequa, NY Office for Your Dental Emergency
If you have a dental emergency, contact us at 516-798-0223 to schedule an appointment.