Most of us would prefer not to visit our doctor or dentist any more than we absolutely have to, though we know that regular checkups are essential to maintaining good health. But there are certain situations that require an immediate trip to the doctor’s office, or even the emergency room. Dental emergencies can and do occur as well, and need to be attended to with the same degree of urgency as a medical emergency.
When crisis does strike, it’s not unusual to get flustered, and you may lose sight of proper safety and health practices. Here are a few things to keep in mind, when you realize you have a dental emergency.
In any emergency, the worst thing you can do is to become frantic, and run around like a chicken with its head cut off. While a dental emergency may call for immediate attention, don’t forget that it’s not likely to be a life and death matter. Even a broken tooth or one that has been knocked out of your jaw can be repaired or replaced.
Stop the Bleeding!
If you’ve been hit in the mouth, or fallen on your face, there may be bleeding inside your mouth. Look inside, using a mirror, or have another person take a look. If there’s bleeding, do your best to stop it as quickly as possible, using cotton or gauze, applying pressure until the flow of blood stops. It usually will, but in the unlikely event that you can’t stop the bleeding on your own, and you appear to be losing a significant amount of blood, this may be one of the rare dental emergencies that does, in fact, require a visit to the emergency room.
Try to determine whether this can wait.
As we said, most dental conditions, even those that we would classify as emergencies, are not life-threatening. In fact, many of these situations can wait until the next day, or, even a couple of days, should the incident occur on a weekend. Even a broken tooth can sometimes wait, unless the bleeding is profuse, or you’re in a lot of pain.
Some of the situations which will require emergency treatment include:
- Loose teeth - If you can feel that the tooth has become dislodged in its socket and is moving around, call a dentist immediately.
- Lost teeth - If a tooth has been knocked out, but you have the tooth, there’s a great chance that your dentist will be able to reinsert it, provided you act swiftly. Your tooth is still alive, so preserve by putting it back in place (if you can do so), hold it in your mouth, along the inside of your cheek, or save it in a container of milk. Take care not to touch the exposed root and nerve tissue, and get to your dentist as soon as possible.
- Cracked teeth - Some breaks or cracks in teeth are minor, and can wait until the next day, or longer. If, however, it’s broken in such a way that the pulp or any tissue is exposed, please get to a dentist as soon as possible.
Manage the pain.
No one but you can really judge how much pain you can withstand. If the pain is minor, ibuprofen will likely carry you through until you can get to the dentist. If you’re experiencing a sharp pain that won’t subside, it may be a warning sign that the dental emergency is more seriously that you might think. If you can’t take the pain, please call your dentist right away.
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