When a dental emergency occurs, it is essential to get prompt treatment. Of course, the first (and best) step is to have an established dental home. Whether an injury happens on the playground, in school or at home, having a dental home and maintaining regular dental check-ups and cleanings is the first and best way to be prepared. Not only will you have an existing relationship already established, but you will also have someone to call who can provide guidance, care and support.
Like all emergencies, dental emergencies appear out of nowhere and demand immediate attention. Knowing what to do when an emergency arises is key to having a positive outcome and preventing a bad situation from getting worse. Taking the right action, can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth. Just as we spend time learning first aid procedures for bodily emergencies, making a special effort to focus on handling dental emergencies means that you are prepared to take care of any situation, no matter what.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), here are a few best practices for the following scenarios:
- If a baby tooth is knocked out – Contact the dentist ASAP.
- If a permanent tooth is knocked out – Find and carefully rinse the tooth in cool water. Do not use soap or scrub the tooth. Simply rinse it in cool water. Replace the tooth in the socket, if possible, and hold it in place with a clean piece of gauze or a washcloth. If putting the tooth back in the socket isn’t an option, place the tooth in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water. Contact the dentist immediately. Prompt treatment is required to potentially save the tooth.
- If a tooth is chipped or damaged – Contact the dentist immediately. Find any tooth fragments. Rinse in cool water and place in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water and take them with you to the dentist. Prompt treatment is critical for preventing infection and avoiding potential complications. If there is any injury to the mouth, treat with cold compresses to decrease swelling.
If tooth loss is the result of a more severe or complicated injury, call for emergency services to insure that proper care is given to the entire injury. Call the dentist en route to the hospital or immediately upon arrival.
An emergency situation is no time to try to come up with a plan of action. Instead, it’s best to be prepared well in advance of any unforeseen injuries. Maintaining regular six month check-ups can help lay the groundwork for handling potential emergency situations when you don’t have time to think about what to do next.