| 06/27/13

You, a couple of movies, and a bag of microwave popcorn. Sounds like a perfect night, doesn’t it? It does, until an errant kernel cracks one of your teeth. Unfortunately, that’s often how dental emergencies occur – from small habits such as chewing on ice, hard candy, or popcorn. As you sit in the dental chair to have your tooth repaired, you’ll find yourself regretting your old habit.

Another common cause of dental emergencies, especially among teenagers, results from recreational activities. If you or your teenager is actively involved in a weekend sport or rec league, we highly recommend using a mouthguard to protect your teeth and jaw.

What constitutes a dental emergency?
In teenagers and adults, a knocked-out tooth—or one that has been chipped or cracked—constitutes a dental emergency. The same goes for any serious pain to your teeth, gum, or jaws. In some cases, a filling or crown being dislodged can also create an emergency—if you’re not sure if your problem warrants immediate attention, call our Columbus dental office to inquire.

If you experience a dental emergency, here are the steps we recommend to minimize damage and pain:

1) Call Our Office
You want to call Herrick Dental as soon as possible and accurately describe the problem. Be as specific as possible and be prepared to offer an evaluation of your pain on a scale of 1-10. We will advise you whether you require immediate attention.

2) Stop the Bleeding
If your mouth is bleeding, gently rinse with warm salt water. The salt will aid the clotting process – 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water is fine. If the bleeding continues, place a moistened gauze pad on the area and apply gentle pressure for 15-20 minutes.

3) Manage the Pain
No need to tough it out. Take an over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol or Advil. Additionally, we recommend applying a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. That bag of frozen peas is more than just a side at dinner—it’s a godsend in a dental emergency.

4) Preserve the Tooth
If your tooth is chipped or cracked, hold on to those pieces! Run warm water over them and save them. Similarly, if your entire tooth has been dislodged, you will want to keep it. Do not touch it by the root or make any attempt to remove tissue fragments from it. Instead, run it under water to clean it. Then, if possible, try to put the tooth back in until you can visit our office. You’ll know that you have it in correctly if you bite down and it feels normal. However, you never want to force it. If you can’t get the tooth in, put it in a glass of milk or water to keep the ligaments moist. Don’t delay treatment – seeing a dentist within an hour of knocking out a tooth gives you the greatest chance of saving it.

Ignoring dental emergencies is a bad idea. The sooner you can get to our office, the less likely it is that you will experience permanent damage or a costly repair. And, although we hope we never see you for a dental emergency, we do keep room in our schedule for them. In the meantime, watch those popcorn kernels!

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