You might think that teeth are immune to injury, since they’re so strong, but even strong teeth can get hurt. Dr. Christopher Banks has seen many dental first aid patients and has some advice on how to handle the more common accidents and how to treat them before you can get to the dentist’s office.
How Can Teeth Get Injured?
There are several ways that teeth can become injured, some more severe than others. All injuries need to be addressed quickly to preserve your oral health. More severe injuries like blows to the face or teeth during sports or auto accidents need to be evaluated immediately by a health care provider. If your injury is associated with severe trauma, seek emergency medical attention right away. Most hospitals have oral surgeons on staff to handle severe injuries, like jaw fractures, emergency tooth removal, or reconstruction of the dental arches.
There are less severe dental injuries, such as cracks, chips, or teeth getting knocked out without blunt trauma. Chewing or biting down on hard objects, especially things not intended for chewing, can cause an injury. This is more likely if the tooth is already damaged from tooth decay. These cases can usually be addressed at home before you can get in to see your dentist, but it’s important to request an emergency appointment as soon as possible.
What to Do in a Dental Emergency
- If the injury was a result of an auto or sports accident, or if there was blunt force trauma, seek immediate medical attention in an emergency room or health care provider. Do not wait to see your dentist.
- For a cracked tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. You may also experience some swelling, which you can reduce by placing cold compresses on the face. Cracked teeth are much more susceptible to bacterial infection, so keeping the area clean is essential.
- For a knocked-out permanent tooth, keeping the tooth moist at all times will increase the chances of saving it. Gently place it back in the socket without touching the root, or place the tooth in a clean and sealed container of milk. Make an appointment with your dentist immediately.
There may be swelling or bleeding associated with these injuries. To keep swelling down, apply cold compresses to the face. Over-the-counter painkillers can help reduce pain, but never apply aspirin directly to the affected area.
Avoiding Dental Injuries
You can prevent dental injuries by taking simple steps to protect yourself and your mouth.
- Always wear a mouth guard when participating in sports or recreational activities.
- Avoid chewing on hard foods that can crack teeth, or even especially items not meant for chewing such as pen caps, erasers, or finger nails.
- Never use your teeth to cut or open things.
Emergency Dental Care in Chevy Chase, MD
Most dentists keep openings in their schedules for dental emergencies, so if you need immediate dental care, call your dentist. Dr. Banks sees patients in the Chevy Chase, MD area, so call 202-769-0324 to get more information on dental first aid or to schedule an appointment.