Accidents happen, and knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth and sometimes saving a life. Also, accidents are public health concerns resulting in added financial expense to families.
In this column, we will discuss the most common dental emergencies and suggest the best response in managing these emergencies.
The most common dental emergency is a toothache, followed by a fractured or tooth that was knocked out. The toothache is usually caused from a hole in the tooth, called a cavity or teeth grinding.
If you happen to have a toothache, rinse your mouth out with warm water and floss the area to see if any food or anything else might be stuck that’s causing irritation. To reduce any swelling, use an ice pack. Take pain medication if it worsens and call your dentist to see when you can make the next available appointment.
Teeth sometimes get knocked out due to violence or accidents. For a permanent or adult tooth, keep the tooth moist at all times. If possible, try placing the tooth back into the socket without touching the roots with your fingers. Also, if possible, place the tooth between your cheeks being careful not to swallow. Alternatively, you may place the tooth in milk. Get to your dentist’s office right away.
A cracked or fractured tooth caused by trauma creates severe pain and discomfort. Often times, a fractured tooth creates sharp edges, causing cuts and bruising to your tongue or cheeks. When this happens, immediately rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Apply cold compresses on the face to minimize swelling.
Similarly, if you accidently bite your tongue, lip or cheeks, clean the area with warm water and place a cold compress on your cheek next to the area.
For objects stuck between your gums or cheek, like fish bone try to gently remove with floss however do not attempt to do so with a sharp or pointed instrument.
Avoiding accident and injury to your teeth:
- Wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or recreational activities. Mouth guards absorbs and spreads the blow if there is trauma to your teeth. It prevents fractures, chipping and a direct hit.
- Do not chew ice, hard candy or open bottle caps with your teeth; all of which can crack a tooth. If a tooth has a history of a root canal it more brittle than other teeth. As a result, it can fracture very easily unless a full crown is constructed to fully protect the top part of the tooth.
- Use scissors or another sharp instrument to cut things. NEVER use your teeth.
- Make sure you see your dentist for checkups. Regular checkups uncover disease earlier and reduces your future overall dental expense.
- Have your dentist’s emergency number handy.
Some dental emergencies are preventable. Unfortunately, genuine emergencies do happen. When they do, see a dentist as soon as possible. Using protective mouth guards during rigorous sports is a good decision. Be alert and protect your teeth and gums by knowing the facts and making healthy choices.
Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected].