How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies Before Reaching Our Office

Mar 20, 2023
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The worst has happened, and you have knocked out, chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged a tooth. — now what? Don’t panic. Read on to learn what to do when dental emergencies strike.

We wish it were true, but most people will experience a dental emergency or need to help someone in their family through one. That’s why it helps to have straight-from-the-experts advice on what to do when a dental emergency strikes. 

Our team of experienced dentists at Beaufils Dental, located in Cooper City, Florida, has seen it all when it comes to dental emergencies. We offer comprehensive dental emergency services and can act quickly to save your teeth — but you need to be an active part of the solution, too. 

Here, we cover a few rules for handling a dental emergency before you can get to our office. 

How do I know if it’s an emergency?

It can be tempting to underestimate the seriousness of a broken tooth, a lost crown, or an abrupt toothache, especially if the problem isn’t too painful or disruptive. The truth is, you don’t have to experience intense or even persistent pain to be in the midst of a dental emergency. 

Knowing when you need emergency dental care doesn’t start and end with pain levels; it starts with recognizing an urgent problem when it happens. Some common dental emergencies include:

  • Intense or persistent toothache or jaw pain 
  • Radiating tooth pain or abscess (infection)
  • Gum tissue irritation, pain, or inflammation
  • Chipped, cracked, or broken tooth enamel
  • A loosened or knock-out permanent tooth 
  • Loosened or lost crowns, fillings, or bridges 
  • Traumatic injury to any of your oral tissues

In short, any acute oral injury or persistent dental pain that you can’t manage, relieve, or resolve on your own is a dental emergency. 

Your first steps

Starting with self-care measures at the onset of a dental emergency can vastly improve your prognosis, especially when you have a significant problem like a knocked-out tooth. Here’s a closer look at how to respond to four of the most common urgent dental problems:

Persistent toothache

Persistent toothaches are often the first warning signs of deep dental decay, an infection (abscess) in or around the tooth, or debris trapped between your teeth or below the gum line. All require immediate treatment.  

After scheduling an appointment with our team, you can manage pain by gently swishing warm water to soothe the affected area. You can also apply a cold compress to your cheek for extra relief. If you decide to take a pain reliever to ease your discomfort, avoid aspirin, which can increase your risk of excessive bleeding should you need a root canal or an extraction.

Loosened or lost dental work

You may not have to rush to our office for loosened or lost crowns, fillings, bonding, or bridges. However, prompt care is crucial for protecting the exposed area and keeping food, bacteria, and germs out. 

If you can’t see us within a few days, do your best to avoid hard foods, chew on the unaffected side, and rinse your mouth well after each meal. There’s also over-the-counter dental filling material available to temporarily seal an exposed cavity and protect your tooth from infection. Over-the-counter dental cement can also help you secure a loose crown while you wait for your appointment. Follow all product instructions closely and call our office if you have any questions.   

Chipped or cracked enamel 

Immediate self-care for damaged tooth enamel is similar to strategies for severe tooth pain. Relieve the pain with a warm-water swish or a cold compress, and take an over-the-counter pain reliever (not aspirin) to alleviate intense discomfort. 

Safeguard against further damage by eating only soft foods or a liquid diet and avoid chewing on the affected side until we can repair your tooth. If a piece of your tooth has broken off, keep the fragment stored in a small container with water. Sometimes, it’s possible to restore your broken tooth with its own missing fragment. 

Knocked-out adult tooth

When a permanent tooth is accidentally knocked loose or completely knocked from its socket, your first actions can mean the difference between saving it or winding up with a tooth replacement like a dental implant.  

To preserve its viability for possible reattachment, carefully rinse your tooth by holding it by the crown, put it in a clean container, and cover it with milk, saliva, or water. It’s essential to keep your lost tooth moist — that’s what keeps it alive and viable. Then, come directly to our office so we can determine whether your tooth can be successfully reattached. 

Care you can trust

Supporting your oral health through a consistent daily oral hygiene routine and twice-yearly dental check-ups goes a long way in preventing the problems (deep decay and severe infection) that lead to many dental emergencies. 

Unfortunately, some urgent dental problems simply can’t be avoided. If you find yourself facing a dental emergency, don’t wait to book an appointment online or over the phone at Beaufils Dental.