There's nothing worse than realizing something is wrong in your mouth. This is partly because it's really difficult to examine it for yourself. As a layperson, it's often difficult to know whether the problem is a dental emergency or something you can take care of yourself. Often, you can help alleviate your symptoms with some at-home first aid remedies. Other times, you should call your dentist immediately.
To help you determine what action you should take, here are 10 common dental emergencies:
1. You Fell and Injured Your Mouth
If you are over the age of 10 and have all your adult teeth, you should never experience loose teeth. If you've fallen or had an accident, your tooth or several teeth may become loose. In this case when you've experienced trauma, you should call your dentist immediately. In fact, you should go to the emergency room if you've experienced a fall. On the way to the ER contact your dentist and explain what has happened. Ask if they can meet you at the ER. It is a good idea to ask your dentist to check and make sure your jaw isn't broken. This may be overlooked in the ER.
2. Tooth Knocked Out
If your tooth gets knocked out, do NOT touch it by the roots. Instead, pick the tooth up by the other side (the one you chew on) and do so very carefully. If at all possible, try to place your tooth back inside its socket. It is important to make sure you position your tooth back into the socket the correct way. You don't want to place it in your mouth backward. If you can't position it back in the socket, that's okay. Put the tooth in a glass of milk and take it with you. If there's no milk available, gently place your tooth in your mouth between your teeth and your gums. Your tooth must remain moist. It is important to call your dentist immediately. A knocked out tooth should be positioned back in your mouth within 30 minutes.
Common dental emergencies all cause some degree of pain or discomfort. The extent of pain and discomfort determine the difference on how you should handle it. If you experience pain when you bite down, it could mean a cracked tooth or it could be the result of you grinding your teeth. However, this can also be a sign that you have an abscess. If the pain is minimal, then take some Tylenol for the pain to reduce swelling. You can also use an ice pack on the sensitive area. You should contact your dentist within a week to have everything checked out. If you suspect a cracked tooth, don't chew or bite on it until you see your dentist. If you're experiencing extreme pain, then call your dentist or visit the ER immediately.
Infections are not going to go away on their own. It's a sign that something is seriously wrong with your body. If you think you have a dental infection, call your dentist immediately. You can also take some over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to help alleviate the pain.
5. Tooth Sensitivity
Some people are sensitive to extreme temperatures. They bite into an ice cream cone and all of a sudden, they feel extreme sensations. The same is true when they ingest hot beverages or certain foods. While tooth sensitivity isn't an emergency, it should be examined as soon as possible to make sure there's nothing more serious. In the meantime, you can buy an over-the-counter toothpaste that helps reduce sensitivity.
6. Mouth Sores
There are a variety of common dental emergencies that are considered mouth sores. They can range from canker sores to food, hand, and mouth disease. However, a sore in your mouth can also be a sign of gum disease. While mouth sores are not life-threatening, they can be painful. If you're experiencing pain due to a mouth sore, try taking some Tylenol. You can also wash your mouth out with hydrogen peroxide. It's a natural mouthwash and will kill any germs. Don't swallow any of it, though. There are some over-the-counter pain remedies you can find at your local pharmacy. Contact your dentist and schedule an appointment if you notice the sore isn't healing properly or if it gets progressively worse.
7. Abscessed Gums
While abscessed gums are a common type of dental emergency, they actually don't look like it at first. In fact, a gum abscess looks like a pimple. It could be yellow, red, clear, or whitish, and you'll find it located on your gum. An abscess usually means your tooth or gums are infected, which results in a root canal or an extraction. It is important to call your dentist immediately. Do NOT pop your abscess. It's not a pimple. You should keep brushing and flossing the area until you are able to visit the dentist.
8. Broken Teeth
A broken tooth is annoying but usually not life-threatening. However, it all depends on how your tooth was broken and how much broke off. If it's only a slight chip, there's nothing to be too concerned about. Schedule an appointment with your dentist at your earliest convenience. If it's a large break and especially if you're in pain, contact your dentist immediately.
Bleeding in your oral cavity should not be taken lightly. If you see blood on your dental floss, it's usually an early sign of gum disease or gingivitis. While not an emergency, it should be examined sooner rather than later to prevent further problems. However, blood in your saliva might indicate an advanced stage of cancer or an extremely advanced stage of gum disease. Bleeding from the mouth isn't normal. Even if you've had a tooth extracted, bleeding that won’t stop is a problem! Keep your head elevated and call your dentist right away.
While swelling is one of the more common dental emergencies, it's never a good sign. It could indicate you have a serious dental infection. It's safe to bet that it won't heal on its own. If you are experiencing swelling, do not wait. Contact your dentist right away. Stay upright and do not lie flat until after you visit the dentist. You should also drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Take Care of Your Mouth
Unlike sharks' teeth, our teeth aren't replaceable. It is critical to maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. You should always brush your teeth at least twice per day and don't forget to floss.
It is important to schedule your dental exams regularly for cleanings. Our dental team is equipped to handle a variety of dental emergencies. We encourage you to contact our Great Neck office with any dental emergencies or questions!