Dental Emergencies: Prevention Is Better Than Cure


There’s no way to predict when an accident will take place, and dental emergencies can be particularly stressful. You have to deal with:

  • Pain (a tooth getting chipped/knocked out, or an unexpected toothache)
  • Expense (dental visits, treatment and care can cost a lot of money)
  • Complications (untreated dental injuries can lead to infection, tooth loss and more)

Preparing for a dental emergency helps reduce the fear, confusion and risks you would otherwise face. It’s a three-step process – understanding the risk, knowing how to prevent it, and acting quickly if it does happen.

Dental Emergencies

Don’t Let Dental Emergencies Catch You Unprepared!

Here are the 3 most common dental emergencies you should prepare for:

  • Knocked-Out Teeth

    – This could happen for any number of reasons, right from fistfights or sports injuries to car accidents and household mishaps. It may seem like there’s no hope, but if you act fast to preserve the tooth and get to a dentist, re-attaching it may be possible.

Here’s what to do:

  • Find the knocked-out tooth and gently rinse it under cool water. Avoid touching the root, scrubbing or using soap to clean it.
  • If you can, place it back in the socket and hold a clean washcloth or piece of gauze over it. Do not do this with baby teeth (they can damage your child’s permanent teeth).
  • If you can’t replace it in the socket, place the tooth in a container with unflavored milk, a tooth-preserving solution, saliva or plain water.
  • Immediately call your dentist for an emergency visit, since the tooth may be saved if it’s replaced within an hour.
  • Broken, Cracked or Chipped Tooth

    – There’s a high risk of infection, so it’s important to clean the affected site and keep it clean till your dentist can treat it. If you keep the nerve healthy, the treatment will be simpler and cheaper than for an infected/unhealthy tooth.

Here’s what to do:

  • Collect any broken pieces you find, rinse them with cool water and store them in a container with milk, water or saliva.
  • Thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any debris or tiny pieces of tooth left behind.
  • If you notice any bleeding near the affected tooth, gently press a piece of clean gauze over it till the bleeding stops.
  • Apply a cold compress over the affected side of your face to reduce the swelling, and call your dentist for an emergency appointment.
  • Toothache or Jaw Pain

    – For sudden pain in the mouth, jaw or chin, set up an appointment with your dentist at the earliest. There’s a wide range of possible causes, which only a dental professional can help pinpoint.

Take a few precautionary measures:

  • Brush your teeth and floss between them to remove any food particles stuck in the gum.
  • Use a cold compress to keep any swelling down.
  • Take an over-the-counter painkiller if the pain is too intense.

5 Simple Tips for Preventing Dental Emergencies

While you can’t guarantee that you won’t ever face a dental emergency, these suggestions will help you minimize the chances:

  • Schedule Regular Check-Ups

    – Regular dental visits help nip potential problems in the bud. If you get early treatment for small cracks, tooth decay and gum disease, you’re less likely to face emergencies as a result of existing issues getting worse.

  • Maintain an Emergency Fund

    – Even if you have dental insurance, emergency treatment may involve out-of-pocket expenses, so reduce the financial impact by creating and maintaining a separate fund for potential emergencies.

  • Don’t Try Self-Treatment

    – Don’t play with a broken, cracked, chipped or knocked-out tooth, or painful gums and teeth. Using sharp metal instruments, placing aspirin on a tooth or prying out stuck food on your own can cause more damage than good!

  • Be Smart about Safety

    – Ensure that children wear appropriate sports safety gear like mouthguards and helmets. Child-proof your home, install a car seat for young children and insist on the use of seat belts for everyone traveling in your vehicle.

  • Take Care of Your Teeth

    – Keep teeth strong, healthy and resistant to damage by eating balanced meals and following a proper oral hygiene routine. Avoid eating popcorn kernels and hard candy, chewing on ice, or using teeth to open bottles!

Author Bio:

Dr. Amruta Patel is a warm and compassionate dentist caring for the community of San Antonio, TX. Dr. Patel attended Marquette University, where she received both her dental degree and her bachelor’s degree.  She practices at All about Smiles and specializes in cosmetic braces, endodontic treatments, implants, and veneers, as well as basic general dental services. Outside of practicing dentistry, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs.

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