| 02/20/17

emergency dentalA dental emergency is something many of us would choose not to think about, until the situation forces itself upon us. But emergencies do happen, to us and our families, and knowing how to handle them ahead of time can make the difference between a temporary or permanent outcome.

The first step to dealing with a dental emergency is acting quickly, and knowing what to do first.

Have the Issue Checked Immediately

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about dealing with a potential dental emergency is this: don’t ignore it. You may be able to deal with the pain or discomfort right now, but if you don’t have the issue checked out as soon as possible, that pain is going to grow, or any damage done may become irreparable.

Don’t hide from the issue for fear of the outcome. Just call your dentist.

Types of Dental Emergencies

While not every issue is an emergency, some cases do need professional attention. A broken, chipped or knocked-out tooth should be addressed immediately, along a tooth that has been partially dislodged.

Lost crowns or fillings may not need attention as quickly as a missing tooth, but they can be a source of pain, and will require a dental appointment.

Injuries or infection to the gums should also be taken seriously. Any injury causing significant bleeding to the gums or tongue should be checked out right away, along with any abscesses, or an infected swelling of the soft tissue.

Go to the Right Place for Care

It’s also important to go to the right place in the event of a dental emergency. Hospital emergency rooms may be able to offer some pain relief, but few have the equipment and expertise to perform dental procedures.

In an emergency, you should call your dentist immediately. At Herrick Dental, we takes these needs seriously, and will help assess the situation and schedule a same-day emergency appointment when available. And since emergencies rarely coincide with business hours, one of our dentists is available after-hours to discuss your situation and walk you through next steps. We can be contacted at 614-891-0440, if it’s after business hours, follow the prompts.

However, there are instances when you should go to the ER before seeing a dentist. If the injury is making it hard for you to breath or swallow, if there is severe or persistent bleeding, involve head or neck trauma, or if you have a serious chronic illness, your first step is to call 911.

What to Do in the Meantime

For some injuries, there are steps you can take before arriving at the dentist to lessen pain or to better your chances of saving a tooth.

If a tooth has been knocked out, rinse it clean with water, but don’t scrub it or remove any attached tissue. You can try to put it back in the socket temporarily, just be careful not to swallow it, and don’t force it in.

If it won’t stay in the socket, place the tooth in a bag or container of milk, or your own saliva, touching the tooth as little as possible.

You should apply a wet, cold compress to the empty socket, to reduce swelling and staunch bleeding. This also applies to other mouth lacerations or cracked teeth, but do so gently. You may need to take over-the-counter painkillers to deal with the pain, but make sure that they don’t touch the gums (they can burn the tissue).

Dental emergencies aren’t fun, but they do happen, and if you’re prepared to deal with them, their results can be less severe. If you have a dental emergency or need advice on an injury, don’t hesitate to contact Herrick Dental at 614-891-0440 or at online.

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