When a dental emergency strikes — whether by an unexpected accident or chronic illness — you need assistance as soon as possible. As with any medical emergency, preparation is key, and knowing what to do when a dental emergency strikes can ensure the best possible outcome.

Traumatic Dental Injuries

Quick thinking is key when a permanent tooth is knocked out – acting fast increases the likelihood the tooth can be saved. Be sure to not touch the root, gently clean the tooth in water, and place the tooth back in its socket facing the correct way. If the tooth can’t be replanted right away, place the tooth between your cheek and gums, or in a glass of milk. Gently hold the tooth in place, and make your way to the dentist office or emergency room.

Treatment for a moved or loosened tooth needs to occur within six hours. If there is excessive bleeding, make your way to the emergency room as soon as possible. The good news is that the vast majority of dental injuries aren’t this severe, and include injuries such as a chipped tooth. If a tooth breaks or chips, bring as many pieces with you as you can and make your way to your dentists’s office.

Tooth Pain

If your teeth hurt either temporarily or have for some time, this is a sign you need to be seen by your dentist. Tooth decay is the most likely cause of tooth pain, and can cause bacteria to spread throughout the mouth and into the gums. Tooth pain doesn’t always signal a severe complications, but it can sometimes be a sign that a root canal is required. This is required when the root of your tooth becomes infected, and needs to be removed, saving the tooth. To know exactly what’s causing your tooth pain and how to fix it, be sure to get in and see your dentist as soon as possible.

Gum Emergencies

Accidental bites, sports injuries, falls and scalding hot drinks can cause injury to the gum, tongue or check lining. These sorts of injuries also require emergency treatment. Infections can also be caused by foreign bodies becoming stuck below the gum line. These infections can resort in an abscess (a painful, pus-filled sac). If you’re experiencing either of these, emergency dental treatment is required.

Soft tissue injuries should be rinsed with dilute salt water. Foreign bodies can often be removed with floss or a toothpick, but a dental visit will ensure any infections are properly treated.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Orthodontic emergencies can often be quote irritating, and sometimes painful. They can include damage to the teeth or orthodontic hardware, sweeping of the mouth or face, or pain in these areas. If you’re experiencing these symptoms or a piece of your orthodontic hardware has broken, be sure to contact your dental office or orthodontics office immediately.