Accidents and emergencies happen, even in dental care, so it’s important to know how to be prepared. It is important that you know what incidents require emergency dental care so you can take care of your teeth or your family’s teeth. Some oral injuries may require immediate treatment, while others can wait until your dentist’s normal business hours.
Some common oral injuries that might require emergent care include losing or cracking a permanent tooth, severe tooth pain, and damaged braces.
Cracked or broken teeth could possibly wait for normal business hours, depending on the severity or location of the tooth. However, if the crack is severe, if there is a large piece of the tooth missing, or if the tooth is knocked out completely, you should seek immediate medical attention. If your or your child’s tooth is knocked out, try to handle it as little as possible. Attempt to gently place it back in the socket, but be careful not to swallow the tooth. Take care to avoid the root; only handle the chewing edge, or the crown, of the tooth. Gently bite down on gauze or a wet tea bag to help hold the tooth in place. If you are unable to replace the tooth, place the tooth in a container with a small amount of milk. If there is any bleeding, apply direct pressure with a gauze pad until bleeding stops. A cold compress can be applied to the outside of the mouth and gums to reduce pain and swelling. DO NOT try to wipe the root of the tooth clean, and never clean the tooth with alcohol or peroxide.
If you or your child experiences damages to braces, call your orthodontist. If you do not have any discomfort and the problem will not interfere with treatment, the orthodontist may delay repairs until your next scheduled appointment. Common problems that can occur with braces are:
- Loose Bracket: Loose brackets can poke your gums, tongue, or cheek. Applying a small amount of a special wax provided by your orthodontist can help prevent poking.
- Loose Band: If the band connecting your braces becomes loose you will need to schedule an appointment to have it re-cemented or replaced. If the band falls off completely, do not attempt to replace it yourself. Instead, save it to bring to your appointment.
- Protruding or broken wire: A protruding or broken wire can cause irritation to your gums, tongue, or cheek. If a protruding wire is causing irritation, you can use the eraser end of a pencil to gently push it into a more comfortable position.
If an injury like a blow to the mouth caused the problem, seek help right away. In any case, you should always call your dentist to let them know of any damage.
If you are dealing with severe tooth or jaw pain, it’s always a safe bet to call your dentist if you think you need immediate care. The office may be able to get you in for an appointment right away. Many dentists often leave slots in their schedules open for such emergency cases. Applying a cold compress or rinsing your mouth with a salt water solution can help reduce the pain while you wait.
Even if you know the office is closed, go ahead and call. There may be an emergency number or instructions on the answering machine.
If you’re near the Roscoe Village, Lakeview, or Northside areas of Chicago and have a medical emergency or need to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists or our orthodontist, call our office at (773) 281-9800 or visit our website.