How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies Before Reaching Our Office

If you’ve ever had to deal with a loose permanent tooth, a painful abscess, or cracked enamel, you know that few things in life are as bothersome or unsettling as an unanticipated dental emergency. And while it’s certainly comforting to know that top-notch urgent dental care isn’t far away, you may not be sure what to do about your situation before you reach the office.   

Because the self-care strategies you use to treat an emergency dental problem can be just as vital as the medical care you receive when you’re finally sitting in the chair, it’s important to recognize a dental emergency when you’re in the midst of it — and know the right steps to take to keep your condition under control until you can get professional help. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common dental emergencies and go over the steps you should take to improve your treatment outcome if you ever find yourself facing a specific urgent problem.  

Common dental emergencies

It’s perfectly normal to second-guess the seriousness of a chipped tooth, a hairline crack in your enamel, or an abrupt toothache. You may think your problem doesn’t require immediate care if it isn’t painful, and if it does hurt, you might take a wait-and-see approach in the hopes that your pain will simply subside as quickly as it appeared. 

So while it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that the first step toward receiving much-needed treatment in a dental emergency is simply being able to recognize the urgency of the situation. The most common emergencies we see in our office include: 

To put it plainly — any mouth injury or acute oral pain that you can’t effectively treat or relieve on your own is something that requires prompt professional care. 

Immediate self-care strategies

Applying the right self-care strategies at the start of a dental emergency can make an enormous difference in your treatment outcome once you reach the office. With that in mind, here are some specific self-care strategies for a few of the most familiar emergencies:   

Severe toothache

Untreated dental decay or a deep abscess (infection) in the root of a tooth — both of which require prompt care — are the two main culprits behind unrelenting tooth pain. 

If you have a persistent toothache, gently swish warm water in your mouth to soothe the area and rinse away any food particles. Carefully flossing around the affected tooth can also provide relief, as long as you do so with minimal force.  

An over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen can help minimize swelling and ease discomfort before you reach our office; holding a cold compress over the area can also be soothing. 

Cracked, chipped, or broken tooth 

Immediate self-care for chipped, cracked, or broken tooth starts with a soothing warm salt water rinse. As you would with a toothache, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and/or applying a cold compress can provide immediate relief for any swelling or discomfort. 

To protect your tooth from further damage before it can be repaired, stick with soft foods and avoid chewing on that side of your mouth. If a piece of your tooth has broken off and you have the missing fragment, placing it in a clean container with a small amount of milk, water, or your own saliva increases the odds that it can be successfully reattached to your tooth.   <<< Doesn’t apply to pieces of tooth. Only when the whole tooth including root, has came out.

Knocked-out tooth

When a healthy, permanent tooth is accidentally knocked out, keeping it moist is the most important thing you can do to maintain its viability — and minimize your chances of requiring a dental implant replacement.

To keep your tooth safe and usable before you jump in the car and head to our office, rinse it in warm water and do one of the following:

If you opt to set it back into its socket, do it carefully so you don’t unintentionally damage the delicate tissues that help encourage future bone reattachment. 

As-needed emergency care you can trust

While having regular cleanings and exams can go a long way in helping you avoid excessive tooth decay, painful infections, and many other urgent dental problems, no amount of preventive oral health care can completely eliminate the possibility of having to face a dental emergency. 

If you’re experiencing an urgent dental problem, the team at Higgins Dental can help. Call our Jacksonville, Florida office as soon as possible, or use the easy online tool to book a same-day appointment with Dr. Higgins and his team any time.   

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