So many of us have had a dental emergency. Teeth and gum problems hit us suddenly, and usually in the wrong time during the day. What do you do when a dental emergency comes up and you don’t have your dentist to rely on?
Major Types of Dental Emergencies
- Dental Infections
- Trauma Accidents
- Pain after a major dental operation
Dental infections are swellings that occur inside (and sometimes outside) the mouth due to pus accumulation from your tooth or gum tissue. Sometimes the swellings can occur slowly, and sometimes they blow up rapidly leading airway restrictions and functional deficits. The latter can be life threatening, as the infection can pass onto your blood stream leading to septicemia and even death.
What to do if you have a dental infection:
If its after hours and your dentist is not available there are a few things you can do:
- Warm Saltwater Rinses: As saltwater helps eliminate bacteria, saltwater rinses can do a great job in sustaining your infection and preventing it from getting any worse until you can see your dentist.
- Visit your local emergency room: The key here is to visit an emergency room with a dental team on staff. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Either a dental team or an oral surgery team should be on the emergency rooms staff as your traditional physician will only provide you with medications.
This dental team can usually do two things for you; drain the infection right there in the emergency room, or provide you with local anesthetic to relieve the pain and discomfort that you have been having so that you can rest until you see your dentist the following day. They will also prescribe you antibiotics that you should start immediately prior to seeing your dentist.
Toothaches usually hit us out of the blue. Sometimes, our tooth beings to throb slightly until we get a full-blown toothache days or months later. Fortunately, there are remedies to this problem until you get to see your general clinician.
What to do if you have a severe toothache:
Here are steps you can take to help alleviate your tooth pain until you see your dentist:
- Ice pack (cold compresses): The use of an ice pack for the first 24 hours in the area of the toothache.
- Saltwater and hydrogen peroxide rinses: Both methods may help alleviate pain in the area if the pain is radiating into your soft tissues.
- 600-800mg of Ibuprofen every 6-8 hours. Ibuprofen is a fantastic medication to take, especially for a toothache. Take either three 200mg tablets every 6 hours, or four 200mg tablets every 8 hours. You don’t want to take too many of these tablets as it can cause severe systemic problems.
Trauma from accidents tend to happen quite often. A lot of times, your teeth and sometimes your jawbones are affected by the incident. If this happens to you, there are steps you should take:
- Visit a hospital emergency center that has a trained Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery team on staff. This is critically important because if your jaw happens to be broken or dislocated, your general dentist will not know how to fix this problem.
- A CT scan should be taken on your jaw to note if any fractures or dislocation have occurred.
- Teeth that are dislodged during the incident need to be pushed back into position and splinted together to regain their stability. A splint will need to be placed for 1-2 weeks, where your family dentist will remove the splint and re-evaluate your teeth at that time.
- If your jaw is fractured, the oral surgery team will need to align your jaw back into position and place a splint that holds your teeth closed until further evaluation can be performed by their team. A lot of times, surgery may be determined to be the best course of action.
Pain after a major dental operation is another big one because people don’t understand how much discomfort they will be in after a dental operation. Whether it is from a simple tooth extraction, to full fledged facial surgery, pain is a consequence that you will have to deal with. Here are some methods that will help you minimize the discomfort after dental surgery has been completed.
- Ice Packs: This will help for the first 24 hours as the swelling continues to increase throughout the day. Cold compresses are a great way to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Ask your dentist for multiple pain medications: Sometimes, Advil or Ibuprofen are not enough to mediate the pain while your body is healing. Ask your clinician if he can give you a narcotic just incase your anti-inflammatory medication like Advil is not working.
- Take and complete your antibiotic treatment: Antibiotics are given to reduce and eliminate changes of infection during the healing process. Please make sure you follow your doctor’s guidelines and complete your medication regimen.
Dental emergencies can come about anytime during the day. These methods will help you cope with your problem until further evaluation and treatment can be performed by your doctor.