Dental emergencies can happen to anyone — maybe during an intense game of basketball or while eating a caramel apple at the fair. Whatever the story, your teeth will probably need professional help. While getting to the dentist as soon as possible after an emergency is essential to maintaining your dental health, there are things you can do to prevent further damage. Here are five of the most common dental emergencies with advice for what you can do immediately to help yourself in each situation.
1. Knocked Out Tooth
If you’ve knocked out your tooth accidentally, it’s important to save the tooth so your dentist can reattach it. Rinse the tooth off in water or milk, and safely store the tooth by tucking it inside your check to keep it moist, making sure to keep the root intact. See your dentist as soon as possible so they can assess the damage and decide the best course of action.
2. Cracked Tooth
Call your dentist immediately if your tooth is fractured or cracked. Take over-the-counter pain medication to minimize discomfort, and use ice packs liberally to reduce swelling in your face. The more ice packs you use at the beginning, the better off you’ll feel later.
3. Temporary Dental Crown Comes Off
If you realize your temporary crown is coming off, try to catch it before you swallow it or lose it. Put a tiny dab of Vaseline on the back of the crown to temporarily bond it to your tooth, and make sure not to bite down too hard. Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to replace the crown.
4. Painful or Infected Tooth
If you think you have any type of oral infection, you need to get help as quickly as possible. Call your dentist immediately so they can bring you in. No matter what, do not try to treat the infection yourself.
5. Broken Jaw or Jaw Pain
If you’ve been in an accident and hurt your jaw, you need to see your dentist immediately. Make sure to ice your face to prevent swelling, and don’t eat solid food until you’ve seen your dentist.
While accidents and emergencies happen to everyone, there are some things you can do to safeguard your teeth. Here are a few:
- Stay away from tough foods, such as popcorn and caramel
- Wear a mouthguard if you’re playing sports
- Brush and floss regularly
- See your dentist for biannual checkups