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CHANDLER, AZ DENTIST – Dental First Aid / Dental Emergencies

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so in light of all the accidents kiddos get into, we thought it fitting to post some tips for dental first aid!

Dental emergencies are common occurrences, but few people are properly prepared to deal with them when they occur!  Here are some first-aid tips for the three main types of dental emergencies: trauma, failure of a restoration, and toothaches—and remember, after applying first-aid, always get to your dentist ASAP!!  Dr. David and Dr. Kyle Rush always do their very best to be available to help with your emergencies!

 

TRAUMA: This typically refers to a sudden impact—getting whacked in the teeth!  Falls are very common, as well as collisions with objects such as Frisbees, “soft”balls, or remote controls (we’ve seen it all).  After a traumatic impact, you may notice your tooth is loose, moved, broken, or knocked out entirely!  What to do?!

A good rule of thumb for teeth and trauma, if possible, is to try to put your tooth back where it was originally—but don’t hurt yourself putting it there.

  • Loose tooth:  Try to hold it where it should be and leave it alone–don’t pull or push it.  Get to your dentist ASAP!
  • Moved tooth: A tooth can be traumatically pushed up, down, back, or sideways.  Rinse the tooth with clean water and try to push it back into its original position, and get to your dentist ASAP!
  • Broken tooth: The severity of a broken tooth depends on how much tooth structure is lost and whether or not the nerve is exposed.  If the fracture is deep and opens to reveal the bleeding inner pulp of the tooth, the nerve is exposed.  The nerve can be covered with an over-the-counter temporary filling material (typically consisting of zinc oxide with or without eugenol) and/or toothache remedy (typically eugenol/clove oil) can be applied with a cotton swab to ease the pain. Get to your dentist ASAP!
  • Knocked outTime is critical!  DO NOT SCRAPE to clean the tooth! Rinse the tooth in clean water and place back in the socket if possible.  If you can’t, store it in Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution, or milk, or saliva (in your cheek), or saline solution (8 oz water w/ 1 tsp salt), in that order (putting it back in the socket is the best option, while saline solution is the least preferred option—but still better than nothing!).  Get to your dentist within 1 hour for best results!

 

FAILED RESTORATIONS: This means broken or loose fillings, crowns/caps, or (partial)dentures.

  • Fillings:  A temporary filling can fill the gap created by a broken, loose, or missing filling.  Over the counter temporary filling materials like Dentemp OS can work adequately.  Form the putty into a small rocket shape and tamp it into the gap.  Tap and grind your teeth to get the bite right and use a wet cotton swab to remove the excess.  And, as always, get to your dentist ASAP.
  • Crowns and Temporary Crowns:  These can fracture or fall off!  My experience is that they usually fail on Fridays around 4:45PM :).  The best thing to do is get to your dentist.  If, however, you find yourself with a crown in your hand on a camping trip or some other inopportune location, you may be able to re-cement it yourself.  First, try to clean out any residual cement inside the crown and on your tooth using a tooth brush, wooden tooth pick, or similar safe, non-metallic instruments.  Try the crown on to make sure you can achieve correct placement.  If not, try to remove more cement, or simply cover the tooth with over-the-counter dental wax to prevent sensitivity.  If, when you try it on, it does fit, remove it one more time and dry it, then attempt to re-cement it.  Over-the-counter temporary cements work well, as do denture adhesives or even toothpaste!  Apply to the inside of the crown and replace, but be aware that this fix is extremely temporary—get to your dentist as soon as you can!

 

TOOTHACHES/PAIN:  A toothache usually means bacterial infection that needs to be resolved with a permanent treatment by your dentist.  But, in the meantime, here are some things to try until you can get to your dentist.

  • Simple toothache: Clean the tooth and remove any plaque or debris, take an OTC pain reliever, and/or apply a topical antiseptic with benzocaine (like orajel) or Oil of Cloves (Eugenol) to help with pain.
  • Gum pain: Clean the gums to remove any trapped particles, rinse with warm salt water (8oz water/1tsp salt), take an OTC pain reliever and/or apply a topical antiseptic with benzocaine (like orajel).

Always remember to see your dentist ASAP for a definitive diagnosis and treatment for any type of pain or emergency!