Dental emergencies are exceptionally common in the United States, with over five million Americans suffering from knocked-out teeth each year. Dental fractures, chips, and oral lacerations are even more commonplace, causing pain, bleeding, and swelling, and leaving the teeth and mouth open to serious infections. Here are three tips for dealing with dental emergencies, so that you can improve your chances of a successful restoration.
1. Stock Up On Emergency Dental Supplies
When emergencies happen, you might find yourself trying to evaluate the damage and repair the area temporarily. Unfortunately, without the right supplies, you might not be able to preserve that knocked-out tooth or stop the zinging pain from that exposed cavity. Although emergency dental instrument sets are available online for curious customers and doomsday-preppers alike, they won’t be much help unless you moonlight as a professional dentist. Instead, focus on stocking up on emergency dental supplies made for people who aren’t familiar with dentistry, such as:
- A Dental Mirror
The mouth is filled with tight space and difficult-to-see dental surfaces, which is why dental mirrors are so useful. Having one handy during a dental emergency can help you to evaluate the extent of any damage so that you know what steps to take next.
- Tooth Preservation Kits
When teeth get knocked out, it can be difficult to keep them alive until you reach the dentist’s office. Handling delicate tooth roots or dropping the tooth onto a dirty surface could affect its ability to reattach and lead to dangerous infections. To protect your rogue tooth, consider investing in a tooth preservation kit. These kits contain a small container filled with a balanced salt solution designed to keep blood from clotting within the tooth and to keep the tooth clean until it can be put back into place.
- Temporary Filling Material
When fillings fall out, the tooth can become incredibly sensitive, vulnerable to decay, and structurally unstable. To protect and seal the tooth, it is a good idea to keep some temporary filling material on hand. Available for under $10 at most drugstores, temporary fillings can be applied in a few minutes and will stay intact until your dentist can repair the area properly.
- Numbing Ointment
Chipped teeth can affect more than looks. Since the interior of the tooth contains nerves, dental fractures and chips can leave your tooth incredibly sensitive. Keep some numbing ointment, such as over-the-counter products like Anbesol, on hand to apply to sensitive areas.
- Dental Wax
If you don’t like the idea of applying medications to your teeth, consider using dental wax to cover fractures and chips instead. Dental wax can create a temporary but effective seal that alleviates sensitivity and protects the interior of the tooth.
2. Know Your Dentist’s Emergency Numbers
If your dental emergency left you searching the floor for a missing tooth, bleeding, or trying to numb pain, you might find it difficult to look for your dentist’s emergency phone number, which can delay your treatment.
To streamline your dental emergency treatment, do your research beforehand to find out how your dentist wants you to approach dental emergencies. Ask about emergency phone numbers and protocols, and don’t be afraid to switch to a dentist who offers his or her number after hours. Some dentists, such as this dental office in Boston, take dental emergencies very seriously and will make every effort to help you as soon as possible.
3. Understand Dental First Aid
A basic understanding of dental first aid is incredibly helpful during dental emergencies. If you know how to respond to different dental problems, you might be able to preserve blood flow around the affected area, keep the tooth or socket clean, and prevent infections. Here are basic first aid tips for different dental emergencies.
- Chipped Teeth or Dental Fractures
Save any pieces of chipped teeth, rinse them and your mouth out with warm salt water, and bring the chip with you to the dentist’s office. If your tooth is bleeding, stop the bleeding by applying clean gauze to the area.
- Knocked-Out Tooth
After you find your knocked out tooth, hold it by the crown (the white part of the tooth) and rinse it off with clean water. If you have one, deposit the tooth in a tooth preservation kit. If you don’t have one of these kits available, keep the tooth in a small container of milk or hold it in your mouth between your cheek and your jaw, so that it stays within its natural environment. Seek emergency dental treatment right away, as teeth are much more likely to be saved if they are treated within the hour.
- Oral Lacerations
For oral tissue cuts, use clean gauze and pressure to stop the bleeding. Oral lacerations in the gum or palate area may need to be treated by a dentist, while cuts in the cheeks or lips can be addressed by a general practitioner or plastic surgeon. Seek emergency medical treatment to stop the bleeding and to prevent infection.
By knowing how to prepare for dental emergencies, you’ll be better able to respond quickly and effectively for dental problems—and stay calm during the process. Contact your dentist in Boston Massachusetts for more information.