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Accidents happen when we least expect them, and that includes dental emergencies! Whether you have a broken or lost temporary restoration, a fallen permanent crown, swelling or bruising after procedures, bleeding after extractions, or a dry socket, it’s important to know what steps to take. In this article, we’ll cover common dental emergencies and offer practical solutions to help you navigate these situations.
Dental Emergencies: What to Expect
Sometimes things happen when we least expect them, and that includes dental emergencies! Here are some of the more common issues that occur:
Broken or Lost Temporary Restorations
If you have a temporary restoration, such as a crown or a bridge, and it breaks while eating or comes out entirely, don’t panic. This is not a true dental emergency and can be easily fixed.
To temporarily replace the restoration, remove any loose material inside using your finger or a blunt toothpick. Avoid using superglue as it can be harmful. Instead, you can use some Vasoline, Chapstick, or Fixodent to place it back onto your tooth until you can have it re-cemented. If you experience pain with your temporary off, you can purchase dental cement from your pharmacy and use it to hold the temporary in place. This will prevent your tooth from moving and ensure your permanent restoration fits correctly.
If your temporary is shattered and cannot be placed back onto the tooth, schedule an appointment with your dentist to have a new one made. In the meantime, you can use dental wax from your local pharmacy to cover the exposed tooth and protect it until you can be seen by the dentist.
Permanent Crown Falls Out
Discovering that your permanent crown or bridge has fallen out while eating can be unsettling. However, this is not a true dental emergency and can be easily fixed.
You can follow the same steps mentioned above to temporarily replace the crown or bridge. Then, call your dentist during regular business hours to have it re-cemented. In most cases, these restorations can be put back with no issues.
Swelling or Bruising After Procedures
It’s common to experience minor bruising after dental procedures, especially those involving root canals, extractions, or extensive crown and bridge work. Bruising is usually caused by the injections used to numb the area and is nothing to worry about.
To minimize bruising, you can use alternating cold and heat compresses within the first 24 hours. If the bruise is located in the mouth, salt water rinses can speed up the healing process. Over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, aspirin, or ibuprofen can also be used for any soreness. It’s recommended to avoid further treatment in the area until the bruise resolves, which typically takes 7 to 14 days. Antibiotics are not usually necessary.
Swelling is more common after extractions and is the body’s normal response to trauma. Applying an ice pack or a plastic bag of frozen vegetables to the affected area can help reduce swelling. Hold the cold compress on the cheek for 25-minute periods, removing it for 5-minute intervals. If swelling persists or increases after 3 days, or if the pain is severe, it may indicate an infection. In such cases, it’s important to visit your dentist for assessment and appropriate treatment.
Bleeding After Extractions
Bleeding after a tooth extraction is common and may appear more severe than it actually is due to saliva mixing with a small amount of blood. To stop the bleeding, gently apply steady pressure on the surgical site by biting down on a piece of gauze. Keep the gauze in place for at least an hour without frequently removing it to check if the bleeding has stopped. Some people may need to repeat this process 2 or 3 times. If bleeding persists and saturates the gauze, and it’s outside of regular business hours, go to the nearest emergency room. The area may need to be cleaned and sutured to stop the bleeding.
A dry socket refers to the exposure of the bone in the socket after a tooth extraction, causing delayed healing. Discomfort typically lessens for 2 or 3 days after the extraction and then suddenly worsens, sometimes accompanied by an earache. Although the condition resolves by itself after 1 to 2 weeks, a surgical dressing can be placed in the socket to relieve pain. If it’s after hours, rinsing the area with salt water or a medicated mouth rinse can help prevent debris from entering the socket. Taking pain medication can also help until you can see your dentist. Avoid using Listerine as it can be irritating to the tissues and won’t provide relief.
Dry sockets are more common among smokers, so if possible, refrain from smoking for several days after the extraction. Women also have a slightly higher risk of developing dry socket.
Knowing how to handle dental emergencies can make a big difference in preventing further damage and ensuring a quick and comfortable recovery. Remember, if your dental emergency does not fall within the situations mentioned above, you can reach out to our after-hours service at 214-226-1243 for assistance. We are here to help!
For more dental tips and information to keep you smiling, visit Make You Smile.