Accidents happen, and especially when they involve our teeth and mouths they can be pretty frightening. It’s important to know when home care will suffice and when a trip to the dentist is necessary, so here are some guidelines to help you through common situations:
Rinse with warm water to remove any food or debris; if you notice anything lodged between teeth, floss to remove it. Take an over the counter pain medication (but never apply the medication directly to tooth or gums), and call our office if the pain persists.
Apply an ice pack or a cold compress to the swollen lip or gum tissue near the chipped tooth to prevent swelling. If the area is bleeding, apply gauze for ten minutes, or until the bleeding has stopped. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Han as soon as possible.
If there is enough remaining healthy tooth structure, Dr. Han might be able to create a crown to attach to your natural tooth, eliminating the need for root removal. While the success of this process, known as “crown lengthening,” depends on the severity of the break, it’s worth asking about options other than complete removal.
KNOCKED OUT TOOTH
Depending on the situation, find the tooth and, holding it by the crown only, rinse it briefly with warm water. If possible, gently reinsert the tooth into the socket and bite down on gauze or cloth to keep it in place. If you cannot reinsert it, place it in a container of milk or salt-water. See Dr. Han as soon as possible—if it’s treated within 2 hours, the tooth might be salvaged.
SOFT TISSUE INJURIES
Our gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue tend to bleed heavily because these tissues contain a great deal of blood flow. To control the bleeding, rinse your mouth with a warm, mild salt water solution, then apply pressure with gauze or a moistened towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, to reduce swelling and help stop residual bleeding, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. In the event of a serious soft tissue injury in which the bleeding is profuse or the damage is visibly traumatic, it’s best to stay calm, keep applying pressure, and go to the emergency room.