If you have just damaged your tooth, you may be wondering whether or not your dentist will consider your situation a dental emergency. Should you schedule a routine appointment or request emergency care? Here are a few examples of dental emergencies:
A Cracked Tooth
If your tooth is chipped, it may wait for a standard appointment. The dentist may only need to smooth the chipped area and apply a bit of composite to protect the tooth.
However, a cracked tooth must be treated immediately. If your tooth is cracked, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cool compress to discourage swelling.
With a cracked tooth, there is usually damage to the inner portions of the tooth as well as the outer layers. In serious cases, a cracked tooth cannot be saved and will require extraction.
Loosening or Forced Misalignment
If your tooth has become misaligned or loosened by force, an emergency appointment is needed to set the tooth properly. If your tooth is not stabilized in the proper position, it can remain misaligned. On the way to the dentist, you can hold your tooth in proper position with your finger, but only use gentle pressure.
Object Stuck in Teeth
If you have an object lodged between your teeth and you are unable to remove it, contact your dentist. If the object is sharp or protrudes in a manner that could damage the soft tissues of your mouth, it needs to be removed immediately.
If your tooth has been dislodged by trauma, you have a dental emergency. Contact your dentist immediately, and take appropriate steps to preserve your tooth:
- Recover the tooth, but avoid handling its roots. Hold it only by the crown.
- Rinse the tooth with plain water, but do not dry, scrub or wrap the tooth. You want to leave all attached tissue in place.
- Place the tooth back in the socket if possible, and hold it there.
- If the tooth cannot be placed in its socket, place it in a glass of milk or inside the pocket of your cheek until you get to the dentist.
If you inadvertently bite or otherwise damage your tongue, the wound may be minor. However, in some cases, a tongue injury will be considered a dental emergency because it causes excessive pain or will not stop bleeding.
If you believe you have a dental emergency, contact your dentist immediately. He or she will be able to determine whether or not you need emergency dental care.