We often underestimate the dangers of the holiday season. There are several scenarios that may warrant a dental emergency. You chip a tooth on grandma’s peanut brittle. Your cousin doesn’t understand the rules of flag football and your tooth is knocked out by a tackle. Extreme pain from pesky pot roast stuck between your teeth. But how do you know when it’s time to call your dentist? Find out what constitutes a true emergency and tips for home treatment while you wait until the dentist office is open again.
What’s the Emergency?
When bad things happen to good teeth, you need to know when it’s time to act fast. Dr. Atkins says that true dental emergencies include, “a broken tooth, a ‘hot’ tooth, meaning there is acute pain causing throbbing....or dental trauma from a hit of some sort.” An abscessed tooth, extreme swelling or excessive bleeding in your mouth also constitutes an emergency. If you experience any of these, a phone call to your dentist is warranted. Many people believe they have a dental emergency when they don’t. “Chipped front teeth, a crown that has come off, a chipped back tooth with no pain or sensitivity” are not emergencies according to Dr. Atkins. A toothache does not necessarily warrant a phone call. If this non-emergent dental incident occurs on a holiday, it can be handled at home. Your dentist will want to check out all dental problems to prevent them from getting worse. So after the holiday, you are encouraged to make an appointment.
How to Handle a Non-Emergency
If you have a toothache or light amount of pain, try taking an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen to address the discomfort. Rinse your mouth with salt water if you bite the inside of your cheek or experience gum trauma. If you lose a crown or a filling, use denture adhesive from your local drugstore to adhere it until you can make an appointment with your dentist. Never use super-glue. Be sure to floss regularly or use a Waterpik to effectively clean between the teeth and gums. Toothaches and a throbbing sensation are often the results of food lodged between the teeth.
How to Handle an Emergency
An abscessed tooth can lead to a fever, extreme sensitivity, facial swelling, or persistent pain. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water in order to draw the infection to the surface and reduce your pain. A dentist appointment will be necessary to address the infection before it spreads. But if it’s Christmas morning and the office is closed give us or another trusted dental practice a call before you rush to the ER. If you chip your tooth or experience a painful fracture, reduce swelling by applying a cold compress to the side of your mouth. You can take acetaminophen but do not use an oral numbing gel as it can cause damage to your gums. Remember, if your pain is tolerable, your appointment can wait. But if a chipped tooth is paired with extreme pain, contact your dentist. If your tooth is knocked out, follow this series of instructions in order to effectively preserve your tooth. First, rinse the tooth without scrubbing or touching the root. Second, attempt to place the tooth back into the socket, but if you’re unable to do so, put the tooth in a small container with milk. Third, call your dentist as soon as possible and prepare to go to the nearest ER. In most cases of dental emergency, a visit to the ER is the best case scenario.
At Anderson & Atkins, DDS, we want to address your dental problems and help you prevent future incidents. If you chip your tooth, break or misplace a crown, have a persistent toothache, contact our offices at (979) 846-1813. Make an appointment if you need to address emergencies such as an abscessed tooth, a knocked-out tooth, or a cracked tooth. If it’s a holiday or the offices are closed, your dental emergency can be handled by capable physicians in an ER or urgent care. We’re happy to schedule an appointment with you as soon as the office is open again!