If your emergency is life threatening, dial 911 for Emergency Medical Services, or go immediately to a hospital emergency room.
What to do in an Emergency?
Accidents happen, and knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth.
- Stay calm. Focus on stopping the bleeding and protecting the injured tooth or area.
- Never take aspirin or ibuprofen for a dental emergency. They are anti-coagulants, which may cause excessive bleeding.
- To alleviate pain, take acetaminophen as directed on the package’s label.
- Injuries to teeth and gums may result in infection or other complications. Call a Smile Wide office to schedule an appointment for an exam of the affected area.
Tips for Common Dental Emergencies
Knocked-out permanent or adult tooth
For a knocked-out tooth, keep it moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, place it in between your cheek and gums, in milk, or use a tooth preservation product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Typically, you have a 1-2 hour window in which your tooth has a chance for re-implantation. Only a Dentist can tell you for sure.
Cracked, chipped or broken tooth
For a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down. Please, call a Smile Wide office to schedule an appointment for an exam of the affected area.
For toothaches, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth, or just under the gum line. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues. If your tooth continues to hurt, please call a Smile Wide office to schedule an appointment for an exam of the affected area.
Gums and Soft Tissues (bitten tongue or lip)
- A small cut (less than ¼ inch) is likely to heal itself.
- Carefully wipe the area clean with gauze or a cloth. Apply a cold compress, ice pack, or small bag of frozen fruit or vegetables to the area to minimize swelling.
- If the cut is larger than ¼ inch, or if bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of cold treatment, go to an emergency room.
Burned Roof of Mouth
- Eating very hot food (like pizza) can burn the roof of your mouth. These painful sores and blisters typically heal on their own. If they have not healed after 10 days, call a Smile Wide office to schedule an appointment for an exam of the affected area.
- In the meantime, use warm salt-water rinses (1/8 of a teaspoon in 8 ounces of water) after meals to keep the area clean. If pain relief is needed use a topical oral anesthetic (found over-the-counter at your pharmacy). You may also take acetaminophen as directed on the packaging label.
Lost Filling or Crown
Schedule an appointment with a Smile Wide dentist. You may relieve pain, caused by air in contact with the exposed part of your nerve, by using clove oil (available over-the-counter in pharmacies and supermarkets). Just dip a cotton swab in clove oil and apply it to the exposed part of your tooth. Putting an ice pack on your face over the area that hurts may also relieve the pain.
Pain, Swelling or Abscess
Visit a dentist immediately, because gum pain or swelling may be symptomatic of an abscess (infection) that forms in gum tissue, or in a tooth’s root and the area that surrounds it. There are many reasons why gums may swell, become painful, or abscess. Only a thorough exam by a licensed Dentist may identify the underlying cause.
If the abscess ruptures, you may experience a sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting fluid from the swollen or painful area. Rinse your mouth with warm water immediately.
Tips for Common Orthodontic Emergencies
Braces are delicate and must be taken care of in order to prevent damage to them. Always be careful with what you eat and your activities to prevent breaking/loosening any of your appliances. Sometimes, however, things happen and something breaks. It is important to know what to do.
The following are some of the common problems that occur and what to do about them:
What to do in case of an Emergency
Call a Smile Wide office if you break or loosen any of your orthodontic appliances. Please, do not come directly to the office. By calling first, you will allow us to schedule a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call immediately to notify us that you need an appliance repaired.
Loose Band or Bracket
If a band or bracket is still attached to your wire, leave it in place. If it is uncomfortable, place wax on it. If it comes out completely, wrap the band or bracket in tissue, and bring it to your next appointment.
Try to place wire back in place with tweezers. If that is not possible, clip wire with fingernail clippers behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If there is any discomfort, place wax on it.
Try to push poking wire down with a pencil eraser. If not possible, place wax on it.
Lost tie wire or colored elastic tie
Notify us at your next appointment.
Soreness after adjustment
Use warm salt water rinses and/or Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
Headgear does not fit
Sometimes caused by not wearing as prescribed. If face bow is bent, please call the office.
If appliance is sticking or poking, place wax on it.
If you think you are unable to handle a problem on your own, please call us.
When you lose any appliance or your retainer, call our office as soon as you can so that treatment will not be delayed for too long.
It is important to pay attention to the condition of your appliances and take immediate action when there is a problem. That way your treatment time can be kept to a minimum and you will be smiling with beautiful teeth as soon as possible.
Paying attention and doing your part will bring great rewards with a sparkling smile. This includes the essentials of brushing and flossing every day, eating a balanced diet, and visiting your dentist regularly.
Precautions You May Take
Here are some simple precautions you can take to avoid accident or injury to the teeth:
- Wear a mouth guard when participating in sports or recreational activities.
- Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy, all of which may crack a tooth.
- Use scissors, NEVER your teeth, to cut things.