Weekend dental emergencies are a real thing. Dr. Rodney received a call this weekend with the unfortunate news of a 16-year-old injured playing soccer. Dr. Rodney and Lisa met the patient at the office and performed an emergency extraction, placed a bone graft (in preparation for an implant), splinted several teeth, used our Cerec* machine to create a same-day crown, placed four sutures, and again used the Cerec to scan the mouth to make a temporary flipper** for the patient. The patient has a way to go for a full recovery and will need to have an implant placed sometime in the future; however, he and his parents were grateful that Dr. Rodney was able to take good care of him when this unexpected incident occurred.
Are you prepared for a weekend dental emergency? Thousands of dental emergencies—from injuries to a painful, abscessed tooth—take place every day. Would you know what to do if your child broke a tooth or had a tooth knocked out while playing outdoors? What if you had a bad toothache in the middle of the night and couldn’t get to the dentist until the next day? Knowing what to do can lessen the pain and save a tooth that might otherwise be lost.
- Keep your dental office phone number with other emergency numbers, such as your family doctor and fire and police departments. Some families post these numbers on the refrigerator or inside a kitchen cabinet door near the phone. Call the dentist immediately for instructions on how to handle a dental emergency.
- Toothache: Rinse the mouth with warm salt water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss or an interdental cleaner to remove any food or other debris that may be caught between the teeth. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth – this could burn the gum tissue. Call your dentist and explain the situation. He or she may prescribe antibiotics and will most likely want you to come in for an evaluation within a few days. Ibuprofen/Tylenol can help manage pain temporarily, but your dentist should evaluate the condition.
- Knocked-out (avulsed) tooth: Try to find the tooth! This may not be as easy as you think if the injury took place on a playground, basketball court, or while skateboarding; try to stay calm. Hold the tooth by the crown and rinse the root in water if the tooth is dirty. Don’t scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If it’s possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket while you head to the dentist. If that’s not possible, put the tooth in a cup of water and bring it to the dentist. Time is critical for successful reimplantation, so try to get to your dentist immediately.
- Broken tooth: Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Use cold compresses on the outside of the cheek to help reduce the swelling. Call the dentist for instructions. Many times a broken tooth does not need immediate treatment. You may be advised to take ibuprofen/Tylenol to manage mild discomfort and/or told to place orthodontic wax over a jagged edge for a few days.
- Tongue or lip bites or wounds: Clean the area gently with a clean cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding can’t be controlled, go to a hospital emergency room or clinic. You may able to reduce bleeding from the tongue by pulling it forward and using gauze to put pressure on the wound. Ibuprofen can be used to reduce swelling.
- Objects caught between teeth: Try to gently remove the object with dental floss and/or a floss pick. Never use a sharp instrument to remove any object that is stuck between your teeth. If you can’t dislodge the object with floss, contact your dentist.
- Possible broken jaw: Apply cold compresses to control swelling. Get to the hospital emergency room immediately.
*Cerec – state-of-the-art method of constructing tooth restorations, like crowns. CEREC® uses computer-assisted design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to offer single-day restorations for patients. The CEREC has also replaced the need for gooey dental impressions, allowing us to scan the mouth and create a digital impression of the mouth.
** Flipper – A flipper tooth is a removable retainer that fits along the roof of your mouth (palate) or sits on your lower jaw and has one or more prosthetic teeth attached to it.