Common Dental Emergencies And What You Need To Know!
Staff | August 2023
Dental injuries can be intimidating when you’re not sure what is an emergency and what can be taken care of at home. At EJL DENTAL we’re here to help. Below is a guide outlining some of the most common dental injuries and emergencies we see, what you can do at home, and how to determine when you should call us or when to visit the ER.
Our hope is that having read this information, you’ll be prepared in an emergency because we’ve equipped you with a reference point. That said, please know that you can ALWAYS call us to schedule an emergency visit - 301-881-6170.
Keep in mind these guides are to help you if a dental emergency occurs. In many cases if you cannot contact our office immediately we recommend you go to the emergency room right away, especially in some of the more severe injuries such as head or jaw trauma.
Whether it's a fall on the floor or a slip while bike riding we have seen our fair share of cracked teeth. And it’s the front teeth that bear the brunt of most of these injuries. For this type of injury we recommend you rinse your mouth out with warm water to clean up the area then apply a cold compress to the face to keep down any swelling that might occur. You can also take a pain reliever like Tylenol. Then, call us.
Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek
We’ve all done it. Bitten down hard on something or a bump in the road causes us to bite our tongue, cheek, or lip. Most times it’s not an emergency, however keep in mind that mouths tend to bleed more profusely and that is normal. That said, if there is blood the first thing you should do is apply pressure to the injured area using a clean cloth or gauze. You can also apply ice to the affected area to reduce any swelling. If you cannot stop the bleeding there might be a need for sutures. Visit the emergency room right away or call 911.
Whether it’s a sports injury, an accident, or horsing around, at some time or another a tooth might get knocked out. This type of emergency can cause panic but try to remain calm. There will be different things to do depending on whether it's a permanent tooth or a child’s baby tooth.
In primary (aka baby teeth) try to find the tooth to bring to our office. In most cases, if a baby tooth is knocked out it’s not an emergency but call us to make sure. We might want to take an x-ray to make sure the whole tooth has come out. Also, you don’t have to try to replant the tooth; primary teeth cannot be replanted.
Permanent teeth are a different story. Recover the tooth if it’s knocked out and do not touch the roots, holding it by the crown (top) of the tooth. Rinse off the tooth and try to gently replant it, meaning try to put it back into the socket. Then hold it in place with some gauze. If it can’t be replanted or you don’t want to try, put it in a glass of milk (not water) and call our office ASAP. We will attempt to replant a permanent tooth unless the damage to the tooth has been too great. It’s important to get to us right away and not let the tooth dry out. As always, if you suspect you have a more serious injury like head trauma, call 911 or visit an emergency room.
Toothaches are very common and can be caused by a number of underlying conditions such as a cavity, an oral ulcer, an abscess, gum issues, loose tooth or even something stuck between the teeth. Rinse out the mouth or floss to dislodge anything stuck between the teeth, which is sometimes the case and can be relieved easily. If, on the other hand, you are experiencing a toothache and you can’t find the cause or pain persists, call the office and we will schedule an appointment to check things out right away.
If there is severe pain or swelling it can be symptoms of an abscess, which can become very serious if left untreated. An abscess is an infection that occurs inside the root of the tooth, creating a pus pocket. Call us immediately if you suspect an abscess - we will definitely want to check it out.
If you’re sensitive to hot or cold food all of a sudden this could also be the symptom of some other condition like a tooth injury or cavity. In this case, schedule a visit and we will examine you to find out the cause.
Something Stuck in Between Teeth
As we mentioned, getting something stuck in between teeth is a common and painful occurrence. Use floss or rinse to try to remove whatever is stuck. Flossers are great for kids because they can handle them much more easily than regular floss. Do not use any sharp or pointed instrument to remove a stuck object. Call us right away if you can’t seem to remove it.
Lost or Loose Fillings
A lost filling can cause pain because it exposes the unprotected tooth underneath. Bateria can get into the area leading to further tooth decay. We will need to replace the filling as soon as possible - call us!
A tooth that is knocked around but not knocked out is called concussed. This can lead to a tooth becoming discolored - turning dark or black - meaning that the tooth is dying. While not a critical emergency it’s good to give us a call to schedule an evaluation.
Broken or Fractured Jaw
This type of injury is much more serious and usually requires a trip to the emergency room rather than to our office. You also need to be very careful. For jaw injuries, try not to move the jaw, carefully tying a scarf around the patient’s head if needed to prevent them from moving it. You can very gently apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swelling as well.
In an emergency, trust your instincts!
As we said, in extreme emergencies, it’s best to call 911 or go directly to the ER. But for most other dental issues, call us at 301-881-6170 and we can help assess the situation and determine if an emergency visit is needed.
Stay safe out there!