Top 3 Strategies for Coping with a Dental Emergency
Have you ever been in the middle of a meal when you suddenly bit into something that felt like a rock in your mouth – only to discover it was a piece of your tooth? Likewise, you may have woken in the middle of the night with severe jaw or tooth pain. Additionally, if you have children, you probably wonder when you’ll have to face another knocked-out tooth.
Dental emergencies can happen to anyone. Sometimes it seems that they happen exactly at the most inconvenient moments, when you’re away for the weekend, or late at night after the dentist’s office is closed. At such times, it’s easy to panic a little, as you deal with throbbing pain or something worse.
How Do You Cope?
First off, you’ll need to assess the problem at-hand. You’ll also need to know if the issue requires immediate attention or if you can wait. Just follow these 3 common-sense strategies:
1. Determine the Pain Type and Level
Your 7-year-old wakes you up in the middle of the night, crying over a toothache. Although it may be hard to determine the pain type, you can watch for a few tell-tale signs of further trouble:
- Facial swelling along the jawline or in the cheeks
- Long-lasting pain that doesn’t abate after administering a child-safe pain reliever
- Signs of fever
- Shooting, stabbing, or throbbing pain
Generally, all your child can tell you is that “it hurts,” so pay attention to the above factors. If your child is unable to sleep or find relief from over-the-counter meds, call your dentist right away. If the pain goes away after taking a pain reliever, call for a regular dental appointment instead of an emergency appointment.
Additionally, if you’re the one in pain, you may also want to determine if the pain is worse when you bite down or drink hot and cold fluids. Also check your gum line for any signs of bumps that signal an abscess.
2. Check for Swelling or Bleeding
If you notice swollen cheeks or gums (either in yourself or a family member), pay attention. Swelling is a clear sign that something is amiss. It’s important to realize that you may not always feel pain when you see swelling, particularly if you notice tiny white bumps on your gums. As mentioned above, those bumps are potential signs of an abscess.
If you see facial swelling or skin discolouration, you may need medical attention beyond that of your dentist. Call your Edmonton dentist to report on any worrisome signs.
When your gums bleed, it’s also an indication of inflammation. If you’ve been careless in your flossing regimen, pieces of food can sometimes lodge under the gums and breed bacteria. Be gentle but consistent in your daily brushing and flossing routine.
If you notice bleeding gums even when you brush and floss as you should, call your dentist’s office to schedule a dental exam. And – of course – if a family member bleeds following a mouth injury, get to the dentist as soon as you can or call for an emergency visit.
3. Stay Calm after an Oral Accident
If your child just took a hit to the face during a sporting activity, stay as calm as possible to keep your child from panicking. Assess the damage and gently examine your child’s mouth. If any of the teeth are chipped or loose, carefully rinse with lukewarm water and pack the area with a small wad of gauze.
If your child has knocked out a tooth entirely, handle the tooth by its biting surface, never its roots. Carefully rinse the tooth in milk (if possible). If your child is old enough to keep the tooth intact, see if you can gently insert it back in place. If this is too painful, or if you fear your child may dislodge or swallow the tooth, keep it in a cup of milk.
It’s important to visit your dentist right away in this instance. If you can’t locate your dentist immediately, find the nearest dentist. Time is an important factor in saving a dislodged tooth.
If the injury knocked out a baby tooth, call your dentist, and then pack the area with gauze to control any minor bleeding. An adult tooth will fill that spot, but your dentist should know about the injury anyway.
Remember, dental pain is a signal. Even if it’s minor, you can report it to your dentist the next time you go in for a regular visit. And if you suddenly feel unexplainable tooth pain, describe what you’re feeling when you call.
You may face tooth sensitivity following a whitening treatment, headaches and pain from teeth grinding, or an obvious oral care emergency. No matter the situation, your dentist can answer your questions and keep you calm – in normal circumstances or during a dental emergency.
Stop by our blog again soon for further oral care tips!