What Are the Common Dental Emergencies | What Should You Do If You Have a Dental Emergency?
There are few things in life more painful than dental distress. That’s why it’s so important to get regular checkups and take good care of your teeth. Unfortunately, you can do everything right and still have something go wrong with your teeth. A crown may come loose or fall out, or you may chip or break a tooth in a fall or other type of accident. In those situations, you may not be able to wait a week or two for an appointment—you need dental care, and you need it as soon as possible.
What Are the Most Common Types of Dental Emergencies?
The types of dental trauma that necessitate immediate care include:
- The loss of a tooth, which can increase the risk of infection
- A broken tooth or chipped tooth, particularly when the injury leaves exposed or unprotected nerve endings
- The loss of a filling, which can lead to infection or cause significant discomfort
- The loss of or damage to a crown
- Any type of infection inside your mouth
Obviously, not every form of dental distress is an emergency. But if you experience direct impact or trauma to your teeth, you should seek emergency care, if for no reason other than to rule out a chip, crack, or other condition that requires immediate care. Furthermore, if you have pain that won’t go away with over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatories, you should seek emergency dental care.
What Are Common Causes of Dental Emergencies?
There are more dental emergencies than you might think. Some common causes of dental trauma include:
- Impact with stationary objects in a motor vehicle accident—steering wheels, dashboards, doors, windshields, and other objects
- Sports or recreational injuries
- Bicycle accidents
It’s also fairly common for people to suffer dental injuries from certain types of food, including hard candies, olives (with pits), biscotti and baguettes, frozen candy bars, popcorn, ice, and shelled nuts or seeds. You also need to be careful when drinking from glass or metal cups or containers. Using your teeth for things like opening bottles or packages can also lead to a dental emergency.
Though they won’t crack your teeth, dense foods, such as certain caramels, breads, cookies, and chips, can cause teeth or fillings to come loose.
What Should You Do If You Have a Dental Emergency?
The first thing to do is contact your regular dentist, who may be able to squeeze you in immediately.
If you lose a tooth in an accident, you may still be able to save it. Rinse it in milk, place it back in the socket, and use gauze to keep it in place. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want the tooth out of your mouth for more than an hour. The same applies to fragments of a tooth. Save the pieces in milk.