NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Imagine you’ve lost a filling or a crown, or have a raging toothache. What’s the first step to alleviating the pain and getting a grip on the situation?
If recent dental industry trends are any indication, you may be one of the 75% of American adults who suffer from some sort of dental or gum disease. And considering a recent Gallup-Healthways poll found that 34% of the public did not visit a dentist at all last year, you should probably know what you can do when a tooth emergency arises.
With some helpful tips from Shamblott Family Dentistry, a dental practice in Hopkins, Minn., here’s what to do if you face one of the following dental emergencies:
1. You lost a filling. The first thing to do is to rinse out the cavity with warm water. Take a cotton ball or a special dental filling product like Dentemp and press it firmly into the cavity. Then call your dentist and ask for same-day treatment.
2. You lost a crown or cap. The Shamblott website says a missing crown won’t trigger “immediate pain," but it definitely can if you don’t do anything about it, especially as you eat and food gets in the exposed area. Don’t wait more than two days to visit your dentist if a cap or crown is displaced.
3. You have a toothache. A severe toothache is one of the most painful forms of trauma you can face with a dental emergency. If it happens to you, immediately rinse your mouth out with warm water and place a cold compress against your cheek for 20 minutes to alleviate swelling. Remove the compress and let the afflicted area warm up again, then re-apply the cold compress. One mistake people make with a toothache is to apply pain medication directly against the gum. Dentists say that could inflame the gum and potentially do more damage to the teeth. In any case, make sure to visit your dentist to check for a bacterial infection that might have caused the toothache in the first place. If left untreated, bacteria can lead to serious problems.
4. You chipped or broke a tooth. The first thing to do is to save the chipped or fully dislodged tooth. Then, once again, rinse the area inside your mouth with warm water. Also make sure to rinse the tooth that’s been displaced. If there is bleeding, apply some gauze or cotton to the area for five to 10 minutes. Then apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth, over the impacted area, until the swelling goes down.
5. You knocked a tooth out of your mouth. Dentists say that your best chance of saving a tooth that’s been fully removed from your mouth is to visit a dentist within one hour. Until then, keep the tooth safely tucked away – in a small container of milk, or in water with some salt added. Then head straight to your dentist.
Dealing with a painful emergency is bad enough, but if you don’t address the problem quickly and effectively, that problem could get a lot worse, both for your health and for your wallet.
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