What is a dental emergency? Well, accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. We can’t control it, but knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth.
You bite down hard on a nut, hear a loud crack, and immediately feel excruciating pain from a broken tooth. Rare? No, it occurs all the time.
A dental emergency can occur at home or in the wilderness without warning and can incapacitate a person instantly.
“No problem, I’ll get right over to the dentist,” you think. Hopefully, that is possible, but not always, especially under the current circumstances.
You may live some distance from a dentist, it may be a night or weekend when it is hard to find one, or there may not be any available. Hospitals rarely have any dental services so that you could be on your own for hours, maybe days.
Since dental first aid is rarely taught in first aid classes, the present information intends to help you in a dental emergency when no professional dental help is available.
If you check any standard first aid kit, chances are you won’t find anything that can help in case of a dental emergency.
A few small, lightweight items available at a drug store or market to add your first aid kit to treat dental emergencies. We recommend the following to put together your kit:
When working in the mouth, remember always to wear protective gloves from your first aid kit to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
The inflammation of the nerve can cause a toothache inside a tooth, called the dental pulp. Decay from a cavity that extends into the pulp can cause a toothache, as can a tooth fracture.
If infection occurs in the tooth, it can cause excruciating pain. And spread through the root of the tooth into the jaw, causing an abscess.
After a meal, when you pack food into the cavity, it may block the drainage, increasing the toothache’s pressure causing the toothache to become worse until the food you clean it.
Treatment of a toothache consists of locating the painful tooth, checking for any obvious cavity or fracture.
Clean out any food with a toothbrush, toothpick, or similar tool. Then soak a small cotton pellet or, if not available, a small piece of cloth in a topical anesthetic, such as a eugenol or benzocaine solution.
Tick removing tweezers or a small instrument like a toothpick helps place the cotton as it is often hard to get your fingers into the mouth. This topical anesthetic should give quick relief.
Biting down on hard candies, some nuts, ice cubes, and other hard or sticky foods are common ways to break a tooth or filling.
If you can cope with the pain in your tooth, be careful not to break it further while eating and see a dentist as soon as possible.
A temporary filling can prevent the tooth from becoming sensitive to hot or cold and prevent food from packing into the hole left by the filling.
Place a small amount of temporary filling material into the hole in the tooth using a dental instrument or a flat tool such as the blade of a knife, popsicle stick, or similar tools.
Have the person bite down on the temporary material to form it to their bite, and then have them open their mouth and remove any excess material. It turns into a dental emergency.
These materials will harden some and remain in place. You can use soft wax also in the same manner as filling a cavity described above. Crowns (caps) can be pulled off teeth by sticky foods, such as caramel and salt-water taffy.
If the tooth is not sensitive to hot or cold, save the crown and see a dentist as soon as convenient.
If the tooth is so sensitive that it prevents the person from eating, it may be necessary to replace it temporarily.
Do this only if necessary, as this is only a temporary solution, and there is a risk that the crown could come off.
Clean out any dry cement or material from the inside of the crown with a dental instrument or knife.
Place a thin layer of temporary filling material, denture adhesive, or even a thick mixture of water and flour inside the crown.
Ensure the crown is aligned correctly on the tooth, have the person gently bite down to seat the crown all the way, and see a dentist as soon as possible.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums (gingiva), most commonly due to inadequate tooth brushing. Gums become red, swollen, and may bleed while brushing the teeth. It is mostly preventable with good oral hygiene. And regular dental check-ups to get a dental cleaning every six months.
When gingivitis causes pain and bleeding in the field, it improves oral hygiene by brushing three times per day, followed by warm salt-water rinses. Over-the-counter anti-bacterial mouthwashes may also help.
It is not normal to bleed from your mouth, so if bleeding is too much and not only in the gums, you need to immediately see a professional.
A fall or blow to the mouth can injure teeth, most commonly the upper front teeth. Teeth may be in a normal position. But loose when touched may be partially out of the socket or push it back.
Unless it is completely knocked out, the first thing you should do is see a dentist when one is not available within a reasonable time. If it is very loose, gently biting on a gauze piece can help hold it in place.
A dental emergency can happen at any time. It can be while enjoying lunch or while looking out over the gorgeous view from your vacation home.
When a tooth is completely knocked out, what you do in the first 30 minutes determines whether you can save the tooth.
The ligaments that hold a tooth into the jaw are torn along with the nerve and blood vessels when it is knocked out of its socket. It is essentially a “dead tooth.”
When re-implanted into the tooth socket within 30 minutes, the body will usually accept it, and the ligaments will reattach.
While it will require a root canal to remove the dead nerve and blood vessels, it will be a functioning tooth.
Over 30 minutes before it is re-implanted and the body treats it like foreign material and slowly dissolves the root over weeks to months. Often the tooth needs to be extracted.
An infected tooth or gum infection (gingival infection) can cause a dental abscess, also known as a pus pocket. Food lodged between the teeth can also do so if not removed with dental floss.
Abscesses are normally located next to the offending tooth and cause pain and swelling. They can spread beyond the tooth to the face, the floor of the mouth, or neck, and it may be difficult to open the mouth or swallow.
On rare occasions, dental abscesses can become life-threatening by getting big. So large that they block breathing or by causing fever or generalized infection throughout the body.
Deal with any abscess immediately. Antibiotics are required to treat abscesses. Go to a dentist directly. If one is not available for severe swelling, go to a physician or hospital emergency room.
When dental or medical help is not available, and the situation is a dental emergency. They can give you oral antibiotics, such as penicillin 500 mg every six hours, after making sure they are not allergic to the medication.
Warm salt-water rinses of the mouth every four hours may help the abscess drain, giving some relief of the pain spontaneously.
Do not place hot packs on the outside of the face unless your dentist gives you this advice. The heat can spread the infection outward.
No antibiotics are available; you can find an abscess next to a tooth that can be drained to remove the pus. It will be painful to do, but there would be immediate relief from it.
You can’t stop accidents from happening, but regular visits to the dentist can prevent many painful dental problems. Professional cleanings help prevent gum infections.
Brush and floss teeth regularly to avoid cavities and gum infections. This is especially important during a time of crisis.
But it would be best if you had in mind that a dental emergency is a common thing to happen. If you have one, don’t panic, you can find a solution knowing what to do in that situation.
If you experience a dental emergency, here are some steps you can follow during the time you’re waiting for treatment.