What to do in a dental emergency
No matter the cause, dental injuries will and do occur. Thinking quickly and making the right decisions can help save your smile if any of your teeth have become dislodged, broken or knocked out. Any dental injury, even if apparently mild, requires examination by a dentist immediately. Other teeth will also need to be checked, as they may have also been injured but gone unnoticed.
One of the best ways to prevent further damage from a dental injury is to have a New York City-area dentist's number readily available in the event of an emergency. Whether you're a new patient or a long-time one, it's also a good idea to ask your dentist about their emergency dental care policies.
If a tooth has been knocked out of place or dislodged
If the tooth has been dislodged from its original position but remains anchored in the socket, disinfect your hands by washing them in an antibacterial soap. Then, grab the tooth by the crown (the part that’s normally visible above the gum line) and move it back into place.
To reduce swelling that may occur, use a cold compress. Visit your dentist as soon as possible so they can ensure the tooth is positioned to heal correctly.
If a tooth breaks or cracks
Cracked or broken teeth should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further injury or damage. It’s possible that a cracked tooth can go unnoticed, so pay attention to symptoms that become more pronounced such as painful chewing or increased sensitivity to cold and hot food or liquid.
If a tooth is breaks, try to locate the fragment. Wash it gently with water and visit your dentist as soon as possible. If there are many fragments, find the missing pieces and visit your dentist as soon as possible. It may be possible for the tooth to be made whole again by rebonding the pieces with special dental glue.
If a tooth is knocked out
When a tooth is knocked out, time is critical and a dentist should be visited immediately.
If you can locate the errant tooth, handle it gently and never touch the root surface. Gently rinse the tooth in water – don’t use soap or other disinfectants, and do not scrape or brush the tooth. If possible, place the tooth back in the socket immediately, which will increase the chances that it may be saved.
If it’s not possible to get the tooth back into its socket, keeping the tooth moist is key to preventing its cells from dying. Special tooth-preserving solutions that will keep it moist are available at a local pharmacy or drug store. If there’s not a drugstore or pharmacy conveniently nearby, place the tooth in milk.
If milk is not available, holding the tooth between the gum and cheek, or under the tongue, will help preserve its moisture (this option should not be exercised if the injured person is unconscious or more severely injured). Do not keep the knocked-out tooth in regular water, or wrapped in a paper or fabric towel.