Adults want and need to keep their teeth, preferably for a lifetime. Unfortunately accidents can and will happen. Trauma from an infection, accident, or injury are the common causes dental of most dental emergencies. Damage can range from minor, to severe, to even life-threatening. Luckily there are some preventative measures you can take. These will help you avoid dental emergencies and keep your smile as healthy and beautiful as possible. Here is what you need to know:
What is Considered a Dental Emergency?
Dental emergencies include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Painful burn or swelling
- Dental abscess
- Jaw injury or broken jaw
- Object caught between teeth
- Broken or damaged restorations
- Chipped or fractured teeth
- Knocked out tooth
Tips for Avoiding Dental Emergencies
These are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of dental trauma:
Get Routine Dental Care
Bacterial infection in the mouth can cause decay and periodontal disease—the leading causes of premature tooth loss. Want to avoid a painful abscess or other dental infection? Treat your teeth with care. Do not skip your semi-annual checkups and cleanings, even if nothing seems wrong. These regular appointments give the dentist opportunities to spot decay or infection before it can turn into a dental emergency.
Use a Mouth Guard
About 40% of dental emergencies in adults occur while playing sports. If you or a loved one participates in contact sports (football, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, etc.) make sure to have proper gear. You also want protection if you do any type of outdoor adventuring or high-risk activities (kayaking, roller blading, skating, and bicycling). Always wear a mouth guard, jaw guard, face mask, helmet, or shield when participating in these sports. The dentist can customize a full mouth guard for you that conforms to the contours and shape of your mouth. This is especially important if you have braces or fixed bridgework.
Don’t Overdo the Sweets
You won’t have to give up sugar or snacking entirely. All you need to do is cut back on frequency. Things you want to cut back on include sweets, sodas, starches, and acids. When you minimize snacking you cut back on harmful bacteria and acids in the mouth that compromise the enamel. Instead the enamel has time for remineralization, making the outer layer stronger and less likely to fracture.
Avoid Hard Foods
Crunchy, chewy, and tough foods can also break your teeth. There are plenty of foods on the bad list. Some items include popcorn, hard or chewy candy, and tough bread and meats. You also want to avoid chewing on ice.
Stop Chewing Non-Food Items
Your teeth are not an all-purpose utility knife. You shouldn’t use them to open packages or bottles, hold bobby-pins, or chew on pen caps. All of these bad habits can cause fracturing and lead to a dental emergency.
What do I do During a Dental Emergency?
Protective measures only go so far. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still might suffer from a dental emergency. It could come from a car accident, a fall off a bike, or even just a toddler learning to walk. If it happens, here is what you should do:
- Call your dentist as soon as possible, even after hours
- If you knocked out a tooth seek care immediately
- Save the tooth, or any broken or chipped pieces
- Store the tooth or fragments in a glass of milk
- Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water
- Apply gauze and pressure to stop bleeding
- Use an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain
Damage from a dental emergency does not have to be permanent. If you do sustain tooth or mouth injures, there are many methods the dentist can use to restore your health and your smile. Just make sure you are informed, prepared, and act immediately.