Very few of us go through life free of unpleasant surprises. The rest of us have to take what life sends our way, whether good or bad. Sometimes this can take the form of a dental emergency. Knowing what to do when the unexpected occurs can help you to manage things until a dentist is available. With that in mind, let’s look at how to deal with three common dental emergencies.
Emergency #1: Damaged or Dislodged Tooth
The most common cause of this problem is physical trauma, although it can also stem from problems such as tooth decay or gum disease. In any case, the important thing is to preserve the tooth or tooth fragments, preferably in either milk or a professional dental solution. It’s important to pick the tooth up by its crown rather than its roots. Otherwise you may damage delicate nerves.
Emergency #2: Bleeding or Other Discharge from the Mouth
This symptom has a number of possible causes, depending on the nature of the problem. Blood loss is usually due either to direct injury or advanced infection. Pus or a milky discharge are common signs of an abscess, an especially severe type of emergency. Here are some tips for dealing with the problem:
- If the person is bleeding, then you may be able to prevent further blood loss by using first aid gauze or another sterile fabric. Apply gentle pressure as needed.
- If the person feels a pimple-like swelling in their mouth, then encourage him or her not to pop it. This may only worsen the problem.
- In the case of bleeding, have the person stay in a standing or a seated position until it’s possible to see a dentist or other medical professional. Lying down may increase blood loss. It might even increase the patient’s risks of suffering a stroke or aneurysm.
Emergency #3: Severe Pain in the Person’s Tooth, Gums, or Jaw
There are toothaches and then there are TOOTHACHES. The first type is usually a symptom of tooth decay or gingivitis. These conditions, while serious, are not true emergencies. The person should see a dentist in the near future. Over-the-counter pain relievers are usually able to manage discomfort in the meantime.
On the other hand, there are toothaches that prevent the person from sleeping, working, or engaging in other regular activities. The pain is especially severe and is often accompanied by other symptoms of distress.
These toothaches may signal serious problems such as a broken tooth, a fractured tooth, or even oral cancer. They require immediate medical care, either from an emergency dentist or a regular physician. In the meantime, here is what you can do:
- Try to keep the person comfortable. If they’re cold, then cover them with a blanket. If they’re too warm, then apply a cool, wet rag to their face, forehead, or arms. If they’re thirsty, then let them sip small amounts of cool water.
- Make notes to give to the healthcare provider later. Medical professionals need to know about any symptoms the person has experienced since the problem began. This will help them to provide the right course of treatment.
Life is always uncertain. It can be downright painful at times. But there’s usually something we can do to manage things until help is available. Use the tips in this post with that in mind. You’ll soon be on your way to brighter days.
About the Author
Dr. Nicholas Brong is a Minnesota native and a devoted dental professional. His extensive training and education give him the ability to treat a wide range of oral health conditions. You can reach his office online or by calling (507) 288-1066.