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Dental emergencies can be sudden

Being prepared is key

Seek professional help as soon as possible

There is no way to predict when a dental emergency will happen. They can happen in the middle of the night with a near-blinding toothache, in the morning or afternoon with a sports accident at school or with friends,or at a meal, when after taking a bite, feeling … and sometimes even hearing… a crack and then pain.

It’s important to not panic when this happens. A cool, prepared head can make quite a difference in these matters.

Here are some things to prepare for dental emergencies:

Assess the Situation

The first order of business is to tell what part of the jaw is affected. Is it an abscess? Was a tooth knocked out or broken? Depending on the location/ cause, there are different things that can be done.

If it’s a toothache, rinse with warm salt water and apply a topical gel with benzocaine to numb the pain. Do not put any aspirin on the area. If there is food stuck there, use dental floss to remove it – gently.

Save the Tooth If Necessary/Possible

If this is a scenario where the tooth got knocked out, someone should find it while any bleeding around that area gets put under control.If it’s broken/loose, try to keep from making the situation worse by doing to much with it.

Should the tooth be found, then it should be seen if it’s possible to put it back in the open socket. If that’s not feasible, then put it in a glass of liquid, whether it’s milk, water or even a solution that’s sold at drugstores (make sure that it has the ADA seal of approval) before taking the next step. This is to preserve it so that the professional can possibly save it.

Go to Dentist/Emergency Room

This is dependent on when the emergency occurred. If it’s in the morning right after business hours open, there’s a chance a dentist could slide the patient in between regular visitors. If it’s later or during the middle of the night, an emergency room (ER) visit is in the cards, since waiting is often not an option.

It’s vitally important to see a professional as soon as possible. By doing this, the chances of saving/restoring the tooth improves greatly and can reduce – though not completely eliminate- the possibility of needing surgery.

After everything has settled down and the emergency is in the rear view mirror, it’s a good idea to come up with ways to prevent a recurrence. If it happened due to neglect, double-down on ensuring that proper brushing/flossing/mouthwashing is being done. That means adhering to proper form and staying in the bathroom for at least five minutes.

When it comes to outdoor activities like sports, it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard. That can help protect against things like balls, elbows, and even the ground. It’s not a guarantee, though, but it might lessen or prevent major damage.

Also, avoiding, or careful monitoring, certain crunchy foods like popcorn can be wise. It’s not ironclad protection but it improves the odds.

Over the course of his dental career, Dr. Barry LeJeune has seen many emergency situations unfold. He’ll be able to guide patients through any situation, whether it just happened or as follow-up to an ER visit.