First Aid for Common Dental Emergencies
Emergencies are quite common even in dentistry. Dealing with these emergency situation is quite challenging to both patient and the dentist. Here are a few dental emergencies and first aid tips to tackle them when it occurs.
First aid for Toothache
The patient should rinse the mouth with warm water to clean out food that may be lodged in the cavity. Dental floss should be used to remove any food that might be trapped in the cavity or between the teeth. If toothache arises in a child, parents are advised to take the child to the dentist as soon as possible.
First aid for Orthodontic Emergencies (problems with braces and retainers)
If a protruding wire is causing irritation, cover the end with a small cotton ball, or a piece of gauze until it can be seen by a dentist. If a wire gets stuck in the cheek, do not attempt to remove it. Go to the dentist immediately. If an appliance is loose or a piece breaks off, appliance should be carefully taken to the dentist in a clean container to the dentist.
First aid for Bitten Lip or Tongue
Direct pressure should be applied to the bleeding area with a clean cloth. If swelling is present, cold compress should be kept. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes, better to seek medical attention.
Chipped or Broken Tooth
Gently clean dirt from the injured area with warm water. Protect the tooth from further exposure to air or cold liquid (cover with sterile gauze). Cold compress to be placed over the face, in the area of the injured tooth, to decrease the swelling.
First aid for Knocked-Out Tooth
Immediate attempt to locate the lost tooth should be the first step. Tooth should be handled by the top (crown), not the root portion. If the tooth cannot be found, look in the mouth area where the tooth should be to make sure it is not driven up into the soft tissue. If the tooth can be located and is dirty, it should be gently rinsed in running water. It shouldn’t be scrubbed to remove any attached tissue fragments. Place the tooth in a cup of milk preferrably. Patient should be taken to the dentist immediately (within 30 minutes if possible). Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
First aid for Possible Broken Jaw
At such instance, close the teeth together and check for proper relationship of upper teeth to lower teeth. Look for muscle spasm on the injured side. If swelling is present, cold compresses has to be applied. Stabilize the jaw in place by tying a handkerchief, necktie or towel around the jaw and over the top of the head. Immediately patient should be taken to a hospital emergency room.
Take home message
Any dental emergency should be tackled with utmost care and early visit to a dentist is a crucial factor in better prognosis of the existing worsened condition.
Author: Dr. Siri P.B.