Dental emergencies are never going to come at a convenient time, and to get most of them resolved, you are going to have to make a hasty last minute trip to the dentist for emergency dental work. However, there are some things you can do in the interim that can help the eventual work at your dentist's office. Below are three techniques you should employ if you find yourself in a tricky dental emergency situation.
Toothaches just by themselves often don't constitute an emergency, but you should be attentive as soon as you feel sustained pain in your teeth, as ignoring it could lead to a definite emergency. If the toothache is severe, first try to get to your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime (which may be a few days if the pain starts on a weekend) you can wash your mouth out with warm water mixed with a small amount of table salt, as well as taking over-the-counter pain relief. Beware of the myth of applying painkillers directly to your teeth or gums; it won't relieve the pain, and could potentially cause burn damage to your gums. Also avoid any heat directly on or around your gums and teeth, as this will not relieve the pain and could potentially cause more damage.
Most of the time, it's pretty obvious the moment a filling or crown has come loose; you'll feel it clanking around loosely in your mouth. Even worse, you may bite down on it, and find that it's not a soft piece of food! With a filling, you can actually plug the whole with a piece of sugar-free gum to help protect the interior of the tooth until you can see a dentist to get it re-filled. Crowns are a little trickier: wash the crown with warm water, and try to put it back in place and find some way to keep it in there until you can see your dentist. Toothpaste and gum can work in a pinch, but make sure you don't try and super-glue your crown back on.
Knocked Out Tooth
If your tooth has been knocked out, the sooner you can see a dentist or oral surgeon, the greater chance you have of the tooth's survival. Typically the tooth will only live for around an hour outside of the gums, so you must act quickly:
- Rinse the tooth gently in warm water if it fell in the dirt or on the ground and is dirty, but don't try to scrub it; you will cause further damage to the tooth, which can lessen the likelihood of a successful re-implant.
- Put the tooth in your mouth. Weird and awkward, understandably, but this will keep the tooth from drying out, and your specific saliva will help your tooth better than anything else you would have on hand. If this is too weird for you, you can put the tooth in milk as well.
- Get it fixed as soon as possible! If your regular dentist is unavailable, go to the hospital; time is of the essence in this scenario.