How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies Before Reaching Our Office

Jul 07, 2023
How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies Before Reaching Our Office
Dental emergencies like knocked-out teeth send more than two million Americans to the emergency room every year. You can avoid the ER by scheduling same-day dental care and following these tips for handling emergencies before reaching the office.

You may be a pro at handling everyday health challenges like cuts and scrapes, but are you prepared to deal with a dental emergency?

Our team at Fremaux Dental Care offers same-day emergency dentistry to people of all ages, providing the care needed to ease pain and repair your teeth. But the steps you take before reaching the office can make the difference between saving or losing a tooth.

Here, we give you tips to follow so you can feel prepared for managing common dental emergencies.

Attend to a toothache

Toothaches are red flags letting you know you have dental decay, a seriously cracked tooth, or an infection. These problems need our attention as soon as possible, not only to ease your pain, but to repair the problem and preserve your tooth.

Before reaching the office, you can relieve the pain by rinsing with warm water, flossing to remove pieces of food, and applying a cold compress to your cheek (over the aching tooth).

You can also take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. However, don’t put aspirin or pain killers against the tooth. They often contain ingredients that can damage your gums and other soft tissues.

Preserve a knocked-out tooth

Did you know that we can often save a knocked-out tooth by implanting it back into its socket? But saving the tooth depends on taking quick action to protect it. Follow these four steps:

1. Don’t touch the tooth root

Avoid touching the tooth root when you retrieve the knocked-out tooth. Pressure on the root damages its ability to reattach to the bone.

2. Rinse the tooth

Rinse the tooth under tap water if needed to remove dirt. Don’t use soap or scrub the tooth. Also, don’t wrap it in a cloth. Instead, follow step 3.

3. Protect the tooth root

There are three ways you can protect the tooth root:

Put it back in the socket (for teens and adults)

Try to gently put the tooth back into the open socket. The socket protects the tooth root, but you’ll need to hold the tooth or gently bite down to hold it in the socket until you reach the office. We don’t recommend this for children because they may accidentally swallow the tooth.

Keep the root moist 

There are three ways to keep the root moist:

  • Put it in a cup of milk (don’t use water)
  • Use saliva in place of milk
  • Hold the tooth between your gums and cheeks

Use a tooth preservation kit

Emergency tooth preservation kits (available in your pharmacy) contain a sterile salt solution that’s formulated to protect a knocked-out tooth.

4. Call us right away

Call and schedule an appointment immediately. A knocked-out tooth has the best chance of surviving if we reimplant it within one hour (the faster, the better).

Stop dental bleeding

Dental emergencies often cause bleeding. To stop bleeding, press a clean cloth or sterile gauze against the area. Apply gentle pressure for 15 minutes, then check to see if the bleeding has stopped.

If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes, call us immediately or go to the emergency room for severe bleeding.

Care for a cracked or broken tooth

A cracked or broken (chipped) tooth may need emergency attention, or you may be able to schedule a next-day appointment, depending on the severity of the injury.

Immediate care

We may be able to reattach the piece that breaks off a tooth (if it’s large enough), so store it in milk or use an emergency preservation kit to keep it moist until you get to the office.

You also need prompt care if the damage exposes the sensitive pulp in the center of your tooth. You’ll know because the exposed nerves usually cause a lot of pain.

Next-day appointment

You can usually schedule a next-day appointment if you’re not in pain, the chipped piece was small, or the crack is minor. Call us if you’re not sure whether you need a same- or next-day appointment and we can guide your decision.

Follow these self-care tips while you wait for dental care:

  • Avoid hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Don’t chew using the chipped or cracked tooth
  • Don’t eat hard, crunchy, sticky, or sweet foods
  • Cover the tooth with a clean, moist cloth (if air is painful)
  • Rinse with warm salt water (one-half teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water)

Our team is ready to provide emergency dental care, so don’t hesitate to call the office if you suffer a tooth injury.