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What You Need to Know When You Have a Dental Emergency

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Updated June 15, 2012

From a broken tooth to losing a tooth altogether, a dental emergency can happen anywhere, at any time. It is very important for everyone to understand what needs to be done if such a problem occurs.

Like any emergency, it is important to stay calm and assess the situation. You should call for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) if you feel the dental emergency warrants immediate care and attention, but not all problems require that. Here are the most common dental emergencies with a link to the recommended courses of action for each.

Dental Emergency: Broken or Cracked Tooth

What causes a tooth to break or crack can vary from biting down on a hard piece of food, or being hit in the mouth playing a sport. Regardless of how a tooth breaks or cracks, chances are the nerve of the tooth will be exposed, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort. An exposed nerve is hyper-sensitive to temperature, especially cold and requires immediate treatment from a dentist. Here, you will find information on what you should do immediately after a tooth breaks or cracks in order to keep yourself comfortable until you can see your dentist.

 

Dental Emergency: A Lost/Knocked Out Tooth

Known as an avulsed tooth, having a tooth knocked out can be very frightening, and very painful at the same time. When a tooth is knocked out, there is a great deal of hemorrhaging that occurs, which needs to be dealt with immediately, bu did you know it is sometimes possible to save your lost tooth and have it reimplanted?

Because time is of the essence when a tooth has been knocked out, understanding how to inspect, clean, and reimplant a tooth that has been knocked out prior to seeing your dentist will hopefully increase the chances for a successful reimplantation of the lost tooth.

Dental Emergency: Cut Inside the Mouth

A cut inside the mouth, also known as a soft tissue laceration is common with most traumatic dental emergencies because the tissues inside and around the mouth are very delicate. Sometimes, a laceration can occur on the outside of the mouth, depending on how the trauma occurred.

When dealing with a laceration, it is very important to make sure that any hemorrhaging from the wound is controlled. Uncontrolled bleeding may lead to shock, which may cause death if not treated immediately.

Dental Emergency: Bitten Lip or Tongue

If you have never experienced biting down on your lip or tongue, consider yourself very lucky. Biting down on either one of these delicate areas is very painful, and may cause a lot of bleeding. There are times when biting on your lip or tongue may require medical attention. Learn how to deal with a dental emergency involving biting down on your lip or tongue.

Dental Emergency: Jaw Fracture and Dislocation

A fractured jaw or a dislocated jaw are both considered to be very serious dental emergencies. The amount of force necessary to break or dislocate a persons jaw will undoubtedly cause significant trauma, and possibly other serious life-threatening complications. Understanding how to correctly handle a dental emergency involving a possibly broken or dislocated jaw should become an important part of every family's first aid protocol.

Preparedness is Key

Preparing for a dental emergency should become part of your basic first aid preparedness plan. Dental emergencies can happen out of the blue, in almost every situation related to a potentially traumatic experience. Without proper knowledge of how to handle a dental emergency, a lost tooth may unfortunately become the least of your worries.

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