Even if your family has great oral health habits and visits the dentist regularly, there’s always a chance that the unexpected might happen. Whether your child experiences a tooth injury playing sports, or you develop sudden tooth pain, here’s what you need to know just in case a dental emergency occurs.
If a Tooth Gets Knocked Out
In the unlikely event that you or a family member loses a tooth — often from playing a sport or falling on a hard surface — don’t panic. Your dentist can likely put the tooth back in if you act quickly. After the tooth is knocked out, call your dentist immediately and try to get to their office within 30 minutes. The sooner they can address the knocked out tooth, the more likely they can safely place it back in.
Before you head to the dentist’s office, either put the tooth back in your mouth and gently bite down, or place it into a glass of salt water or cold milk. Try not to touch the tooth’s roots, and avoid cleaning or scrubbing it, which can cause permanent damage to the tooth.
If a Tooth Breaks
A tooth can break from contact sports, biting down on hard food or as the result of an untreated cavity or root canal.
When you first notice the broken or chipped tooth, rinse your mouth with clean water. To minimize swelling, apply ice to the part of your face that’s nearest to the injury. If the tooth is bleeding, apply pressure and gauze to the area. If you don’t have gauze, tea bags are an effective substitute. Then, head to the dentist’s office as soon as possible.
Fortunately, your dentist can fix a broken tooth if you visit them as soon as possible. They can also determine if there is an underlying cause that needs treatment, and help you address it.
If You Experience a Toothache
A toothache can appear for a variety of reasons. Teeth can become sensitive to temperature, which can be a warning sign of a cavity. If your child is in their teens and develops a toothache, they could have an impacted wisdom tooth. Sometimes, toothaches aren’t even tooth related, and can actually signify a sinus infection. However, the only way to know for certain what is causing your toothache is to visit your dentist.
At the first signs of a toothache, begin chewing on the other side of your mouth. If you experience swelling, place an ice pack on your cheek. Do not place heat or aspirin on the affected tooth. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can.
If You Develop a Mouth Sore
Canker sores, small white sores that appear on the inside of your mouth, make up the majority of most mouth sores. They’re common — people typically develop canker sores if they brush their teeth too hard, bite their cheek or lip, experience sensitivity to certain foods, or are under stress.
If you or your child gets a canker sore, avoid acidic foods such as oranges, pineapples or tomatoes, which can make the sore more painful. You do not need to contact your dentist if you or your child experiences a canker sore unless it lasts for two weeks or longer. However, if the sore appears outside of the mouth or causes a lump, contact your dentist immediately.
You never know when an unexpected dental emergency can come up. Keep your dentist’s contact information handy so you’re prepared in the rare event an emergency occurs and visit the dentist regularly to ensure dental problems aren’t going unnoticed. Read our blog, “School’s Out, But Oral Health Shouldn’t Be,” for more tips on how to practice good oral health habits during the summer.
Use our Find a Provider tool to quickly access a dentist near you in case of an emergency. For an easy guide on how to handle the different dental emergencies discussed here, download our oral health flyer, “What To Do in the Event of a Dental Emergency.”