You might think that teeth are immune to injury, since tooth enamel is so hard, but even healthy teeth with strong enamel can be injured. Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano, TX 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 be injured, some more serious than others. All injuries need to be addressed quickly to preserve your oral health. More severe injuries such as blows to the face or teeth during sports or auto accidents need to be quickly evaluated 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 sometimes break, chip or knock loose a tooth. This is more likely if the tooth is already weak from tooth decay. These ailments 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 dental 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. Depending on the severity you may be suffering from other medical issues that your dentist is not equipped to treat.
- 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 preserve it and increase the chances of reinserting it later. 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 mouthguard to protect your teeth 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.
Dental Injury Care in Plano, TX
Most dentists keep openings in their schedules for dental emergencies, so if you need immediate dental care, call your dentist. Dr. Sowell sees patients at his practice, Sensational Smiles, in the Plano, TX area, so schedule a complimentary consultation online or call (972) 382-6855 to get more information on dental first aid or to schedule an appointment.