Is It a Dental Emergency? 7 Possible Situations and What to Do

Be prepared for a dental emergency

Though we may do all we can as parents to keep our kids safe from harm, the fact is that kids love to run and play, and sometimes they get hurt. In extreme situations, they might break a bone or suffer dental trauma. And in either situation, parents need to know what to do. If your child has experienced what you believe to be a dental emergency, the best course of action is always to call your dentist. However, we have provided some helpful tips below so you can stay calm if your child has tooth pain from their injury and increase their chance of a full recovery.

What is a dental emergency?

If you have questions about tooth pain, you are always welcome to call the nearest Eastern Carolina dental office. However, there are some things you can do to help mitigate the problem while you are waiting to discuss next steps with us. Here is what you need to know.

A dental emergency can be something like a tooth being knocked out, a cracked tooth that is causing pain or sensitivity, a severe toothache, or an abscess in a tooth that is infected. When abscesses are left untreated, it can lead to further complications that require immediate emergency treatment from your dentist.

We recommend immediate care for the following situations.

  • A knocked-out tooth
  • A broken or chipped tooth
  • A tooth filling that has come out
  • Severe tooth pain
  • Pain stemming from a dental crown

1. Knocked-Out Tooth

If you or your child has experienced a knocked-out permanent tooth, the first thing to do is to try and find it. Once you have found the tooth, avoid touching it by the root. Rinse it with room temperature water, and then try placing it back into its socket if the root is still intact. If you cannot place it back in the socket, place the tooth in a small cup of milk or the tooth owner’s saliva to keep it properly moistened. Then, head to the nearest emergency dentist. The sooner your dentist can try reinserting the tooth, the better the chances it will remain attached.

2. Broken or Chipped Tooth 

If you have experienced a broken or chipped tooth and the remaining portion of the tooth is still in your mouth, look for the broken tooth, rinse it with water, and then wrap it in wet gauze. Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it, apply pressure to stop the bleeding (if any), and apply a cold compress to the area to reduce the risk of swelling. Bring the broken tooth or chipped piece with you to the dentist.

3. Tooth Filling That Has Come Out 

Though fillings are designed to last a long time, sometimes they fall out or need to be replaced. If your filling does fall out, call your dentist immediately. Waiting too long to replace your filling can lead to tooth decay and cause more issues for you later. While you are waiting to see the dentist, keep the area clean. Avoid eating or chewing on the affected area.

4. Severe Tooth Pain

If you are experiencing severe tooth pain that doesn’t go away with over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, ice treatment, or elevating your head, it could be a sign of a serious infection. As a rule of thumb, if your toothache lasts longer than a day or two, o​​r you have a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, earache, or pain when you open your mouth wide, you should call your dentist.

5. Bitten Tongue or Lip

In many cases, a bitten tongue or lip injury is minor. In these cases, rinse your mouth with water to better see the injury. Apply gauze or a clean cloth with pressure to the injury to stop the bleeding. You can apply gentle pressure with an ice pack to help manage pain and reduce swelling.

However, if the bleeding doesn’t stop, you see something that doesn’t look right, signs of infection, or new bleeding, you should contact the dentist immediately. If there is excessive bleeding from oral trauma, bite down on gauze or a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. If the pressure doesn’t stop the bleeding, apply a moistened black tea bag to the area to assist with the swelling.

6. Pain From a Dental Crown

If you are experiencing pain in the area of your dental crown, it is always best to contact the dentist. The pain could be from something as simple as an adjustment that needs to be made. But, dental crown pain can also indicate a more severe problem like a fracture or an infection, especially if you have recently experienced dental trauma to the area.

7. Objects Stuck Between Teeth

While the other issues mentioned in our list usually require urgent dental care or next-day care, this situation can be treated at home. Try loosening the particle with floss, or use your tongue to apply pressure to the area where the item is stuck. Combining these two strategies will generally loosen the particle and help you feel better. Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to use a sharp tool to dislodge something that has become stuck between your teeth. This could create a more serious issue requiring dental or medical attention.

Contact Oxley Comprehensive Dentistry if you believe you have a dental emergency.

We can’t reiterate enough that patients are always welcome to contact us if they have questions about their oral health or if they have experienced a dental emergency. We know that dental trauma can be scary, and we’re here to help. Call your New Bern dentist office at 252-899-3058 for emergencies or questions that can’t wait. For non-emergency care, request an appointment using our online form. The team at Oxley Comprehensive Dentistry looks forward to helping you feel better.