Dental emergencies and injuries can occur at any time due to accidents or as complications to a prior treatment procedure. These dental emergencies or injuries may require first aid treatment to be administered before taking the person affected to the dentist. Remember, accidents do happen and knowing what to do under the circumstances in any given situation can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth.
However, dental injuries can be avoided and prevented by taking certain precautions like wearing a mouth guard during any sports and recreational activities that may cause injury to the teeth and gums and also not biting on hard foodstuffs that may crack the tooth.
Given below are a few common dental emergencies and injuries along with First Aid tips for each.
1. Toothaches : - First you need to thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm saline water and floss your teeth to remove any food particles that may be stuck in between them. In case of a swelling, apply cold compress outside the affected area. Never put any medicine like, aspirin or clove directly against the gums as they may cause tissue burns. Take a painkiller, if you have any, and visit the dentist as soon as possible.
2. Chipped or broken teeth : - Teeth can get chipped or broken due to accidents or trauma and is a very common occurrence, specially among kids. If this happens, save any pieces that you can find. Rinse the mouth with warm saline water and also rinse the broken pieces. In case there is any bleeding, place a wet gauze on the area and bite on it hard for 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. You can also apply cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken or chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. Visit the dentist as soon as possible.
3. Knocked Out Tooth :- Teeth can get knocked out of their sockets in case of a trauma and immediate action in this case can save the tooth and increase the chances of “replantation” of the tooth back into its socket. First you need to retrieve the tooth and rinse it with water gently without scraping its root surface. Also take care to hold the tooth with its crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth) and NOT the root, as you may end up damaging the periodontal fibers that help in attaching the tooth to the bone. Rinse the mouth also with warm saline water and remove any debris that may be present. Try to insert the tooth back into the socket, if it is clearly visible and there are no other broken fragments near or in the socket. Do not force the tooth into the socket and make sure that it is facing the right way. However, if that is not possible, then the other best alternative is to place the tooth in the mouth between the cheek and gum to keep it moist. The tooth should not be allowed to dry out. The third alternative is placing the tooth in milk or saline water in a container and take it to the dentist as soon as possible along with the patient. The best and the highest chances of saving a knocked out tooth are when it is seen by the dentist and returned to its socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
4. Extruded Teeth (teeth pushed out of position) : - In case of an extruded tooth, you can try to push the tooth back gently by applying finger pressure on the tooth or by biting on it. But take care not to force the tooth. You may experience pain and so may not be able to touch the tooth, in that case just rush to the dentist as soon as you can. You can apply a cold compress to the area to relieve pain. You can also take a painkiller in the meantime.
5. Objects Caught Between Teeth :- Usually a toothpick or a floss can dislodge any objects or food particles that get caught between teeth. But, if you are not able to do so then visit the dentist as soon as possible and do not use any sharp instruments like pins as they may injure your gums or soft tissues.
6. Lost Fillings :- A sugarless gum can be stuck into the cavity as a temporary measure before you visit the dentist, which should be as soon as possible. Leaving the cavity open for long can cause sensitivity.
7. Lost Crown :- If your crown (artificial cap that is put on teeth in some cases) has come off, then keep the crown safe and rush to your dentist immediately. But, if for some reason you are unable to get an appointment soon and the tooth causes pain, then apply a little clove oil with the help of a cotton swab on the sensitive area of the tooth, taking care not to touch the soft tissues. If possible try to slip the crown back on to the tooth by coating the inner surface with denture adhesive or even toothpaste to help to hold the crown in place. Well, needless to say, it would not be a very good idea to use super glue!
8. Broken Braces Wires : - If you are wearing braces for orthodontic treatment, then there are chances of the wires breaking and sticking out of the band or brackets causing trauma to the cheek, lips, gums or tongue. In this case, try to reposition the wire with the help of the eraser end of a pencil, or cover the end with a gauze, cotton ball or wax, or even chewing gum will do. Then rush to the dentist to get the wires cut and replaced or repositioned. Never try to cut the wire on your own as you may cause damage to other tissues or end up swallowing or inhaling the cut piece of wire or it may also get lodged in your throat.
9. Loose Brackets and Bands :- Loose brackets can be reattached with the help of orthodontic wax or place the wax over the bracket to cushion it. If the problem is a loose band then save it and rush to your orthodontist as soon as possible. The orthodontist will re-cement or replace any loose brackets or bands for you.
10. Tooth Abscess :- An abscess is an infection that occurs in relation to a tooth and can be seen as a small pimple or swelling in the gums next to the offending tooth, or it may also appear as a general swelling extra orally opposite the affected tooth. In a chronic infection, pus discharge from the area can be seen. This infection can turn fatal if not treated and handled appropriately as soon as possible before it spreads to other areas through the blood stream. You should visit the dentist as soon as possible, if you detect an abscess. In the meantime rinse your mouth with warm saline water to help drain the abscess intra orally. Never apply heat to the area from the outside. The dentist will prescribe suitable medication and drain the abscess and treat the offending tooth or extract it as the case may be.
11. Soft Tissue Injuries (Bitten Lip or Tongue) :- Any injury to the soft tissues like the lips, tongue, cheek or gums can result in bleeding. To control bleeding first rinse mouth with mild salt-water solution then use a moistened piece of gauze and hold it over the area by applying pressure for 10-15 minutes. You can also use cold compress on the outside for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. If the bleeding still doesn’t stop, then rush to the dentist immediately. The dentist will control the bleeding and evaluate the need for any stitches to be given.
It is always best to be prepared for any kind of emergencies and you can prepare yourself for any dental emergencies by packing a Dental First Aid Kit. The dental first aid kit should contain the phone number of your dentist (both home and office), saline solution, clean handkerchief, some gauze and or cotton balls (preferably sterile), a small clean container with a lid, Ibuprofen tablets (not Aspirin as it is an anticoagulant and it may cause excessive bleeding in case of a dental emergency).
See Pictures of Dental Emergencies here:
Original article posted on Xomba