Steps to Take in a Dental Emergency

TMJ Therapy, Greenwood, IN

Because they’re so strong, you might think your teeth are resistant to injury but even strong, healthy teeth can be injured. Dr. David W. Goris of Beautiful Smiles in Greenwood, IN has seen many dental accidents and emergencies and has some advice to offer on how to handle the more common ones before you can get to the dentist’s office.

How Can Teeth Get Injured?

There are many ways that teeth can be injured, some more serious than others, however, all injuries should be examined quickly to avoid damaging your oral health. More severe injuries such as might be caused by a blow to the face or teeth while playing sports or during an auto accidents should be evaluated immediately by a medical doctor.

If your injury was the result of severe trauma, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Most hospitals retain an oral surgeon on staff to deal with severe injuries of the mouth such as jaw fractures, emergency tooth removal, or reconstruction of the dental arches.

There are less severe dental injuries, such as cracks, chips, or teeth getting knocked out without blunt trauma. Chewing or biting down on hard objects, especially things not intended for chewing, can cause an injury. This is more likely if the tooth is already damaged from tooth decay. These cases can usually be addressed at home before you can get in to see your dentist, but it’s important to request an emergency appointment as soon as possible.

What to Do in a Dental Emergency

  • If the injury was a result of an auto or sports accident, or if there was blunt force trauma, seek immediate medical attention in an emergency room or doctor’s office. Do not wait to see your dentist.
  • For a cracked tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. You may also experience some swelling, which you can alleviate by placing cold compresses on the face. Cracked teeth are much more prone to infection from invading bacteria, so keeping the area clean is essential.
  • For a knocked-out permanent tooth, keeping the tooth moist at all times will increase the chances of re-inserting it. Gently place it back in the socket without touching the root, or keep the tooth in a clean and sealed container of milk. Schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.

There may be swelling or bleeding accompanying these injuries. To control the swelling, gently apply cold compresses to the face. Over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain, but never apply aspirin directly to the affected area.

Avoiding Dental Injuries

It is much easier to prevent dental injuries than it is to treat them. Consider taking these simple steps to protect yourself and your mouth.

  • Always wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or recreational activities.
  • Avoid chewing on hard foods that can crack teeth, or even especially items not meant for chewing such as ice pen caps, erasers, or finger nails.
  • Never use your teeth to tear, cut or open things.

Emergency Dental Care in Greenwood, IN

Most dentists will open up their schedules for dental emergencies, so if you need immediate dental care, call your dentist to check their availability and make sure you let the staff know the nature of your emergency. Dr. Goris sees patients in the Greenwood/Indianapolis area, both for routine dental examinations, cosmetic dental work and also dental emergencies, so call (317) 886-4512 to get more information on dental first aid or schedule an appointment online.