Dental Emergency Care 101

Donna Pleis

An image of a little girl with a toothache making a silly expressionAccidents can happen anytime or anyplace.  But when an accident involves a tooth, fast action and knowing what to do can not only save the tooth, it can save you money. The most common dental emergencies involve chipped, cracked, or broken teeth or teeth that have been loosened or knocked out completely. Calling your dentist immediately is key, but until you can get to the office, here’s what you can do.

Chipped or Fractured Tooth

Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water and place a cold compress over the area to reduce any possible swelling. And an over-the-counter pain reliever may help with any discomfort until you can see a dentist.
Your dentist will evaluate the tooth, and if it is a minor fracture, smoothing it may be enough to take care of the problem, or you may need a tooth-colored filling to repair the tooth. If a large portion of the tooth is broken, you may need a full crown and possibly root canal treatment in order to save the tooth.

Knocked Out Tooth

Immediate action is needed when a tooth is knocked out of its socket. The Academy of General Dentistry says that seeing a dentist within 30 minutes and handling the tooth appropriately makes the difference between saving the tooth or losing it.

  • Handle the tooth by its crown only. Touching the roots can damage the cells necessary for the tooth to reattach to the bone.
  • Carefully rinse the tooth in water to clean off any dirt — but never scrub.
  • Try placing the tooth back into the socket; this will help keep it moist.
  • Put the tooth between your gum and cheek, if you can’t get it back in the socket, or immerse the tooth in milk or saliva until you can get to the dentist.

Loosened Tooth

When a tooth has been bumped hard enough to become loose or pushed out of position, you should gently reposition the tooth so that it is in proper alignment. Lightly bite down on the tooth, just enough to keep it from moving, until you can get to the dental office. Your dentist may decide to splint the loose tooth to the teeth on either side of it. Splinting holds the tooth in place until its root firmly reattaches to the bone.

Preparing for an Emergency

Keeping a dental-care kit handy for emergencies can save valuable time in the event of a dental accident, and here’s what the Academy of General Dentistry recommends it should contain.

  • Your dentist’s office and home phone numbers
  • Salt water solution
  • Gauze
  • Handkerchief
  • Small container with a lid
  • Ibuprofen (Don’t use aspirin; it can cause excessive bleeding)

Dental Discount Plan

Because a dental accident typically requires some type of repair, having help with a portion of the cost gives you one less concern. Whether you a covered by a traditional dental insurance plan or not, a dental discount plan is an affordable option to lessen the expense of the emergency visit and any subsequent treatment needed to repair the tooth. When you see a dentist that accepts the plan, you’ll save between 5% and 50% on all dental treatment. And because a discount plan is not insurance, there are no deductibles, yearly maximums, excluded services, or waiting periods to worry about.

No one can forecast an accident. But as Ben Franklin once said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So get that dental care-kit ready, and click on the link to the right to access a Confident® dental discount plan through Careington® for savings on all of your dental needs.

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