March 29, 2019
Dental emergencies can occur at any time. Knowing how to do when they strike can prevent needless discomfort until the injured party can see a dentist. Helpful tips include: using cold to reduce swelling, keeping over-the-counter pain relievers on hand, and using a piece of sugar-free candy or gum as an impromptu cavity filling.
For Warm Relief, Try a Little Cold
Swelling and discomfort are common symptoms of many dental emergencies. You can control both problems by applying cold to the affected area. This is especially helpful for relieving facial swelling.
Instant cold packs are affordable and easy to activate; you’ll find them online and at most pharmacies or mass retailers. You can also use something as simple as a plastic sandwich bag filled with ice cubes or a package of frozen vegetables.
Remember that prolonged exposure to cold can cause frostbite. For this reason, you should never keep a source of cold in direct contact with the skin. Always use a rag or other piece of fabric as a buffer. Also, you should never use dry ice for first aid purposes.
Pain Relievers Relieve Discomfort and Inflammation
Another handy item to have on hand is an over-the-counter pain reliever that also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen are good choices for most people.
Remember to never give aspirin to young children, as this can cause severe reactions. Also, you should never place aspirin on the site of a toothache, as this can damage sensitive mouth tissues. Avoid dispensing prescription pain relievers to anyone without proper medical authorization.
Sugar-Free Gums or Mints for Filling Cavities
A lost bridge, filling, or crown is one of the most common dental emergencies. Should this happen, it’s important to salvage the dislodged item for possible reinsertion by an emergency dentist later. In the meantime, a piece of sugar-free gum or candy can serve to fill the gap. You can also use temporary filling material, which you’ll find online and at most pharmacies.
Other Tips for Dealing with Dental Emergencies
Here are some added suggestions for managing oral health emergencies until it’s possible to obtain help:
- Keep a small bottle of clove oil on hand. This is a classic remedy for toothaches.
- Make sure emergency contact information is written down and readily available. This should include the phone number and address of your nearest emergency dentist. While it’s fine to store this information in a mobile device, nothing beats good old fashioned pen and paper as a backup.
- Prepare your own dental first aid kit. It should include the items mentioned in this post along with latex gloves, a small mirror and flashlight for seeing in the mouth, and some topical oral analgesic that contains benzocaine. You can also find ready-made kits at many drugstores or online retailers.
Dental emergencies can strike at any time. Taking time to prepare for them can make all the difference in the world when one comes along. Once the crisis is over, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for your foresight and ingenuity. You’ll have earned it.
About the Author
Dr. CJ Landry has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years. His broad base of training and study gives him the ability to treat a wide range of regular and emergency dental conditions. You can reach his office online or by calling (504) 348-0080.
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