It’s easy to think that teeth are immune to injury, given how strong they are, but even strong teeth can get hurt. Dr. Doyle Freano of Lexington, KY has seen many patients who have needed dental first aid, and has some advice for how to address some of the more common accidents and how to treat them before you can get to the dentist’s office.
How Can Teeth Get Injured?
Blows to the face or teeth can occur in auto or sports accidents, and can range from a loose tooth to severe jaw injuries. Most hospitals have oral surgeons on staff to handle severe injuries, such as jaw fractures, emergency tooth removal, or reconstruction of the dental arches. If your injury is associated with severe trauma, seek emergency medical attention right away.
However, there are less severe dental injuries, such as chips, cracks, or teeth coming out without blunt trauma. Sometimes chewing or biting down on hard objects can cause an injury, especially if the tooth is already damaged from tooth decay. These cases can be triaged at home before you can get in to see your dentist, but it’s still important to request an emergency appointment.
What to Do in a Dental Emergency
- If the tooth was injured as 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 knocked-out permanent or adult tooth, keeping the tooth moist at all times will give you the best chance at being able to save it. Gently place the tooth back in the socket without touching the root, or place the tooth in a sealed container of milk. Make an appointment with your dentist immediately.
- For a cracked tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. You may also experience some swelling, so place cold compresses on the face to keep the swelling down. Cracked teeth are much more susceptible to bacterial infection, so keeping the area clean is essential.
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 Lexington, KY
Most dentists keep openings in their schedules for dental emergencies, so if you need immediate dental care, call your dentist. Dr. Freano sees patients in the Lexington area, so call 859.554.1586 to get more information on dental first aid or to schedule an appointment.