When you've got a dental emergency, you're probably feeling stressed -- or possibly outright panicked. This is quite normal, but stress and panic are the enemies of dental emergencies. The most important thing that you can do is to keep a clear head, take some deep breaths, and remember the following do's and don'ts of a dental emergency.
Do: Collect Your Tooth if It Was Knocked Loose
If your tooth was knocked loose, collect it straight away. Just because the tooth was knocked out of your mouth doesn't necessarily mean that it's gone permanently. Put any knocked out tooth in a cup of full cream cow's milk and get to the emergency dentist straight away. The tooth will stay alive for up to an hour, thanks to the preservatives in the milk.
Don't: Try to Clean a Knocked Out Tooth
When handling a knocked out tooth, don't make any attempt to clean it. You should never handle the tooth any more than is necessary to drop it in the cup of milk. Be sure to hold the tooth by the enamel instead of the roots. If your tooth got dirty, the milk helps not only preserve it but also cleans it off. Your dentist will also do any necessary cleaning before re-implanting the tooth in your mouth.
Do: Use Sugar-Free Gum to Replace a Lost Filling
If a filling has been dislodged or has been lost, you can use sugar-free gum as a temporary replacement. Whilst not meant for a long term solution, sugar-free gum won't cause damage and it will protect the hole in your tooth whilst you get to the emergency dentist.
Don't: Use Mouthwash
Many people assume that since mouthwash can have antibacterial properties that it would be smart to use it when you're having a dental problem like a knocked out tooth or a lost filling. However, this is actually a bad idea because the mouthwash has chemical ingredients that could potentially make your pain worse. If you feel that you must clean your mouth before you get to the emergency dentist's office, use plain tap water -- and swish gently.
Do: Stop the Bleeding
Use clean cotton gauze to staunch bleeding that may happen during a dental emergency. In a pinch, a clean piece of cotton cloth will also work. Bite down lightly on the gauze to get the bleeding under control whilst you're en route to the emergency dentist.
The biggest don't of all when it comes to dental emergencies is simple: don't delay. As soon as you're aware of a dental emergency -- or even a situation that you think might be an emergency -- phone your emergency dentist. The more quickly that you get to the dentist's office, the better the outcome will be.
If you keep a cool head and remember the do's and don'ts above, your dental emergency can be handled in the best way possible. The right response to dental emergencies can mean better dental health for the rest of your life.