You brush your teeth after every meal. You floss at least once a day. You visit your dentist at least twice a year. When dealing with daily dental care, you’re a pro. But do you know how to handle a dental emergency?
While hopefully you (and your children) never experience a dental emergency, proper preparation is the key to a positive outcome. This complete guide details common dental emergencies you might encounter, and what to do if they occur.
What Is A Dental Emergency?
Most dental problems develop slowly over time. Regular check-ups help prevent small issues from turning into big problems. On-going issues like sensitive teeth, bleeding gums and chronic bad breath require a trip to the dentist’s office. But they’re usually not true emergencies. So you can schedule those appointments during regular office hours.
A dental emergency requires help right now. Either the pain is unbearable or the condition is serious enough that treatment needs to begin immediately. Common dental emergencies include:
- Knocked-Out Teeth
- Broken or Fractured Teeth
- Jaw Injuries
- Severe Toothache
What Should I Do If I Lose A Tooth?
Accidents or decay can cause a tooth to suddenly drop out of your mouth. While this can obviously be an alarming sight, the chances for repair are good if you know what to do.
Adult teeth should be rinsed in warm water for about 10 seconds. The main concern is removing any dirt or other debris. After rinsing, a whole tooth should be inserted back into the empty socket. Any tooth fragments should be stored inside the mouth between the inner cheek and gum.
Children should not store teeth inside their mouth due to an increased risk of swallowing. Instead, place the tooth or tooth fragment into a glass of whole milk.
Next, you’ll want to visit a dentist – ideally within 30 minutes. The dentist will be able to perform the appropriate treatment which might include a root canal or wire splint. The average detached or broken tooth takes about a month to heal. If a dentist is unavailable, head to the emergency room.
What Should I Do If I Have A Jaw Injury?
A broken or dislocated jaw requires a trip to a doctor. But they often also require a trip to the dentist, too. Even if you see no visible damage to your teeth, any jaw damage has the potential to affect your overall dental health. Jaw damage can result in bite misalignment, speech difficulties, numbness, swelling and more.
An injury or even just genetics can result in a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder. Also called TMJ, this condition can result in persistent jaw pain, facial pain, jaw movement impairment, and similar negatives.
Any on-going jaw pain should be checked out by a dentist. He or she will likely perform a physical exam on your jaw. X-rays might also be taken. Your bite alignment, jawbone stability, and overall jaw structure will be analyzed.
Treatments for TMJ and other jaw issues will depend on the severity of the problem. Pain relievers, physical therapy and custom appliances are all common treatments for mild to medium-level problems. More serious cases can require surgery.
When Is A Toothache Severe Enough To Be An Emergency?
Toothaches rarely go away on their own. Instead, they usually get worse over time. If left untreated for too long, an infection can result in tooth loss. Replacing a lost tooth with a dental implant is almost always far more expensive than simply treating the minor tooth pain early on. Treating minor tooth pain is important, but it’s usually not a dental emergency.
Tooth pain becomes a dental emergency when the pain is severe and persistent enough to interfere with your daily life. Visit a dentist right away if you have tooth pain which prevents you from comfortably eating or talking. Also, take immediate action if your experience any facial swelling or pain.
How Can I Save Money During A Dental Emergency?
After the initial emergency is somewhat settled, you might be faced with a whole new pain – a pain in the wallet. Specifically, how are you going to pay your unexpected dental bill? Unlike a check-up, a dental emergency often gives you no advanced warning. You might be hit with a major cost you’re not prepared for.
A dental discount plan can help you save on a wide variety of dental procedures including many emergency procedures. With a dental discount plan, you pay an annual fee to access discounts at thousands of dentists across California. Simply present your membership card directly at the office of the participating dentist for instant savings. Depending on the procedures performed, you could see savings between 10% and 60%.
Dental emergencies can strike at any time. But with a bit of knowledge, and a dental discount plan, you can find an affordable solution quickly.