It is important to know what kinds of injuries require emergency dental care, so you can make sure that your family's teeth are taken care of, while avoiding unnecessary trips to the emergency room. Accidents can happen at all times of the day or night. Some oral injuries may need immediate treatment, while others can wait until your dentist's normal business hours.
Some common types of mouth injuries include cracked, broken, or knocked out teeth, which can be a result of biting on a piece of food that is too hard, a sports-related injury, a fall, or any other type of accident. Depending on the severity of the injury and where the tooth is located, it is possible that a chipped tooth or minor fracture can wait for a call to the dentist during normal business hours.
However, if the crack is severe, there is a large piece of the tooth missing, or the tooth has nerve damage or is knocked out completely, you should seek immediate medical attention. Learn more about how to handle a broken tooth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.
While you are waiting, if the tooth is knocked out, try to handle it as little as possible. See if you can put the tooth back in the socket, biting down on moistened gauze or a wet tea bag can help. Be very careful not to swallow the tooth.
If you can't get the tooth to stay in the socket for the journey to the dentist or emergency room, rinse it off to get rid of any visible dirt and keep it in a container of milk or your saliva until a professional can see you. You can apply a cold, wet compress to help with any bleeding coming from the tooth socket.
Sometimes the problem won't be as clear-cut as a knocked out or broken tooth; you may find yourself dealing with severe tooth pain, from an abscess tooth, for example. If you think you need emergency dental care, call your dentist's office first. The office may be able to get you in for an appointment quickly, as dentists often leave slots in their schedules open for such emergency cases.
Even if you know the office is closed, go ahead and call. There may be an emergency number or instructions on the answering machine. If none of these options work, head to the nearest emergency room. The staff there can help determine whether the injury can wait for your dentist and can possibly provide pain medication to help alleviate symptoms in the meantime.