During the busy holiday season, the last thing on your mind is your oral health. But if you experience a dental emergency, that can quickly change. Especially since they often happen at the most inconvenient times, like New Year’s Eve! When holiday dental emergencies strike, the first thing to do is call an emergency dentist or go to the nearest hospital (more on that below). Then use the tips in this blog for handling the 7 most common emergencies until you can be seen.
1. Lost Dental Crown
Whether you’ve lost a permanent or temporary crown, rinse it out and let it dry. Then put a small dab of dental cement from the store in it and put it back over the tooth. You can also use denture adhesive or toothpaste, but don’t use any other type of glue or adhesive because it can damage the crown and/or your tooth.
2. Lost Filling
Use some dental wax from the store to cover the tooth and insulate it from hot and cold temperatures. This will also cover any rough edges and prevent food from getting lodged in the area until your appointment.
First, swish with lukewarm salt water a few times. For swelling and pain, apply a cold compress to the area and take over-the-counter pain medication as directed until your appointment.
4. Knocked-Out Tooth
To save your tooth, it’s crucial to be seen within an hour. If you can’t make it to a dental office in that time, go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center. In the meantime, only handle the tooth by the crown, not the root, and start by rinsing it off. Don’t wipe it or scrub it with a cloth.
If possible, the best course of action from there is to put the tooth back in its socket, facing the right way. If that’s not an option, put the tooth in a glass of milk or hold it in your cheek pouch. Only use tap water as an absolute last resort. Above all, keep the tooth moist until you’re seen.
5. An Infection or Abscess
An infection or abscess often shows up as swelling or a pimple-like bump on your gums. It’s often the result of a severe cavity and usually accompanied by a severe toothache. If left untreated, a dental infection can spread to other areas of the body and become dangerous or even fatal. Call a dentist right away or go to a hospital or urgent care center. If necessary, they can prescribe antibiotics until you’re able to get dental care. While waiting to be seen, use over-the-counter pain medication and apply a cold compress to the area for 20 minutes at a time.
6. Partially Dislodged Tooth
Call an emergency dentist right away to schedule the first available appointment. Then, apply a cold compress to your cheek, take an over-the-counter pain medication as needed, and avoid chewing on that side.
7. Chipped or Broken Tooth
Chipped teeth don’t usually cause much pain unless they’re severely broken, so you can simply use dental wax from the store to cover any sharp edges. If you are in pain, take your preferred over-the-counter pain medication until a dentist can see you. To avoid breaking the tooth further, don’t eat hard or crunchy foods until it’s repaired.
No one wants to deal with a dental emergency, especially at this time of year. But with these tips, you’ll know how to handle it so you can get back to the holiday festivities with your smile intact!
About the Author
Dr. Gery Benza is a general and emergency dentist with nearly 40 years of experience. He knows how a dental emergency can ruin the holidays and is always just a phone call away to help his patients when they need it most. If you’re having a dental emergency or have any questions, he can be contacted via his website.