Few things are scarier than dealing with a dental emergency. In addition to struggling with pain and bleeding, you might also be concerned about how the incident will affect your appearance and your ability to eat and talk. Fortunately, Boston dentists are on hand to help you with emergency dental problems—day or night. Here are five critical steps to take during a dental emergency and why.
1. Don’t Panic
When something traumatic happens, most people’s first reaction is to panic. Adrenaline rushing throughout your body makes you want to hurry, while your mind might be overwhelmed with worry. This biological reflex is a recipe for disaster. Research has shown that people who tend to panic are less likely to make rational decisions during emergencies.
The first step in properly dealing with a dental emergency is to stay calm. Focus on your breathing, think about what you need to do next, and try techniques to slow your heart rate. Try squeezing all of the muscles in your body at the same time and then releasing them, and then repeating this action three times. Doing this can help to avoid a panic attack. Then close your eyes and visualize your next steps.
2. Stop the Bleeding
Unfortunately, dental trauma can involve a lot of bleeding, especially since your face, jaw and teeth themselves are highly vascular. If you are suffering from facial, lip, or cheek lacerations, your next step should be to stop the bleeding.
Using clean gauze, paper towels, or a clean, dry towel, focus on stopping the bleeding by applying pressure. Pressure can help the blood vessels to constrict and form a clot so that you don’t bleed excessively. Elevating the wound will also help to stop bleeding, which is easy when the injury is in your mouth. Keep your head up when dealing with dental emergencies, and avoid laying down. If you bleed so much that you soak through the towel or gauze, replace it with a clean version.
3. Collect Tooth or Fragments
Once you have the bleeding under control, focus on finding any missing teeth or tooth fragments. If you don’t have a flashlight handy, turn on all of the lights in the area or use the flashlight on your smartphone. If there are people with you, ask for help locating your teeth.
Keep in mind that when handling knocked out teeth, it is important not to handle the pulp or the roots. Blood vessels that come in contact with contaminants, dirt, or pressure are less likely to heal when placed back in the socket.
Do not scrub the tooth or teeth. Doing so could damage the tooth. If the teeth or fragments are dirty, you can rinse them with clean water.
4. Preserve the Tooth
Your dentist’s ability to replace your knocked out tooth is completely contingent on the health of the tooth and the amount of time that has elapsed since the incident. In order to keep the tooth clean and ready to re-implant, manufacturers have developed save-a-tooth kits for people to use during these kinds of incidents.
Save-a-tooth kits contain a small container of solution that is designed to protect the tooth and keep the blood vessels in the tooth from closing off until you seek emergency dental care. Tooth preservation kits are available for under $20 online. If you don’t have a tooth preservation kit, you can also store the avulsed tooth in a glass of cold milk. Do NOT use water–this can cause cells to rupture.
Because other kinds of sudden dental problems can also warrant urgent at-home treatment, there are also emergency dental first-aid kits available online. These kits contain supplies like dental mirrors, antimicrobial wipes, cotton rolls, dental wax, and ibuprofen tablets—making it easy to soothe pain and protect your damaged tooth or teeth until you can meet with your dentist.
5. Contact Your Dentist
The most important step in dealing with any dental emergency is contacting your dentist as soon as possible. Many dental clinics offer emergency care all throughout the day and night, allowing patients to simply meet with the dentist whenever they encounter a dental emergency. Some dental clinics even give out the dentist’s personal cell phone number, giving you the chance to get immediate dental advice. Other offices have a 24/7 voicemail service that forwards your message to the dentist on call, so that the right professional can call you back and arrange a meeting time.
When you talk with your dentist during a dental emergency, remember to remain calm. Do your best to explain the situation entirely and to make sure you understand the instructions you’re given. When you meet with your dentist, he or she can talk with you about what needs to happen to repair the tooth, or if repairs like dental implants in Boston would be a better alternative.
To make things less stressful during your next dental emergency, program your dentist’s office phone number into your phone. By having direct access to a dentist who practices cosmetic dentistry in Boston, you can rest a little easier knowing that you are prepared.