Emergency & I: How to Handle Dental Emergencies

Emergencies are, by their very nature, scary things. When we’re scared, it can be difficult to stay rational, and when we’re not thinking clearly, it can be easy to make mistakes. One antidote to this problem is knowledge; if we have an understanding of best practices when an emergency pops up, it’s much easier to stay calm and make the right decisions. Dental emergencies can be mitigated, but when they do come up, a bit of knowledge will serve you well; prevention and care should be carefully considered.

Prevention is the most important step for handling dental emergencies, that is to say, avoiding the emergency altogether is the best possible outcome. First, protect yourself; don’t bite down on hard objects – they’re called jawbreakers for a reason, and you shouldn’t take it as a dare. When cutting objects, use a knife or scissors; if our teeth were meant to do the task, we wouldn’t have developed those devices in the first place. If you’re participating in contact sports, wear a mouthguard to prevent dental injury; even in non-contact sports, like skiing, it’s a good idea to wear one in case of a fall. Keep your children safe, too; make sure car seats are appropriate, seat belts are always on, and that babies aren’t putting just anything in their mouths. Have a first aid kit in your home with cotton balls, gauze, and a mirror you can use to look into a mouth.

A knocked-out tooth is one of the more alarming emergencies that can occur; fortunately, if you’re fast acting, it’s likely you’ll be able to put the tooth back in. If you can, hold the tooth by the crown, so your fingers are touching the enamel and not the root, and put it back into the opening. If you can’t, or you’re worried about swallowing the tooth, but it into a glass of cold milk. Either way, get to your dentist as fast as you can; if you can make it within 10 minutes, the tooth will likely take root again; after two hours, it’s quite unlikely the same tooth can be reattached. Should you experience bleeding, put gauze into your mouth and bite down. Similarly to knocked out teeth, broken teeth can often be saved; call your dentist and see them as soon as possible after a chip or break.

When you’ve bitten down on your cheek, tongue or lip hard enough that it’s bleeding, use a clean cloth to apply pressure to the wound; if it’s swelling, an ice pack or cold cloth can help. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to the emergency room.

If you think you’ve broken your jaw, apply ice and make your way to the emergency room.

When an object is lodged in your teeth, try to dislodge it with floss; if this is impossible, go to the dentist. Don’t use sharp objects to dislodge objects from your teeth; you might end up hurting yourself.

Markham Dental Centre has at least one emergency dentist on hand during operating hours; if you have a dental emergency, get to us right away, and we can likely save your smile. As with any emergency, time is of the essence, so don’t delay, even if you feel a sudden toothache.