What To Do in a Dental Emergency

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If you’ve ever had a tooth knocked loose or knocked out you know what a terrifying and helpless feeling it can be. Will you permanently lose the tooth? Can it be fixed? Will you have to have oral surgery? Those are all questions that will probably be bouncing around in your head. But instead of panicking, follow the steps detailed below in a dental emergency and your chances of a good outcome (saving vs. losing your tooth) will be improved.

If You Have a Tooth Knocked Loose

If you’ve had an accident and you’re holding your tooth after it’s been knocked out, then it’s a dental emergency that needs action right away! Follow these five steps and the odds of your dentist being able to actually reinsert and preserve your tooth are increased immensely.

Pick up the tooth from its top (which is the crown) and be sure not to touch the root of the tooth (which is at the bottom).

Very gently rinse the tooth off with warm water to ensure that it is clean. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any tissue attached to the tooth. Be sure to close the drain in your sink so you don’t accidentally lose your tooth down the drain.

If possible, place the tooth (gently) back into the socket where it came from. Bite down while gently holding the tooth once you get it back in the socket.

If you are unable to put your tooth back in the socket, then place the tooth in a small container of milk. Be sure not to use water.

Give your dentist a call immediately to make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible. This will improve your chances of saving your tooth (if you have also followed the steps above). The longer you wait, the less chance of the tooth remaining viable to be re-implanted in the socket.

If You Have a Tooth That Is Loose

If you’ve had a tooth knocked loose or out of alignment, call your dentist immediately to get in for an appointment. Try to put the tooth back in its original position using your finger with minimal pressure (don’t try and force it). Bite down to keep the tooth from moving. Once you get in for your appointment, your dentist may want to splint the tooth to the adjacent teeth (the teeth on each side) to keep it stabilized.

Your Dental Emergency Preparedness Kit

You can never predict when you’re going to experience a dental emergency. You can, however, be prepared in case you do have to deal with one. If you are prepared (and avoid panicking) then the chance of saving your tooth goes up immensely. Here’s some recommended things to keep in a small dental first-aid kit. Keep one in your house in an easy-to-find location and one in your car or truck.

Each kit should contain the following:

  • Small container with a lid
  • Name and phone number of your dentist
  • Acetaminophen - not aspirin or ibuprofen because they can act as a blood thinner and cause excessive bleeding during a dental emergency
  • Gauze
  • Handkerchief

Follow these tips and your odds of saving that lost or loose tooth will be much better. And you won’t have to worry about getting an expensive implant eventually to replace the tooth!

Sources: MouthHealthy.org (ADA), YourDentistryGuide.com

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