What to Do in a Dental Emergency

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What To Do In A Dental Emergency

We use our mouths and teeth on a daily basis. We need them to eat, drink, talk, and express emotion. Sometimes, accidents occur involving our teeth or mouth. Accidents can occur due to blunt force, misuse, or unavoidable mishaps.

When an emergency occurs, it is important to handle these incidents as quick as possible with fast treatment. Postponing the treatment of teeth- or mouth-related emergencies can cause permanent damage.

Often, these incidents can be handled at home. Depending on the severity of the emergency, you may need to see your dentist sooner than expected.

What To Do In A Dental Emergency2


Lockjaw is when a patient’s jaw won’t fully open. This is due to muscle spasms of the jaw. It’s often caused by:

  • Cancer treatments
  • Medications
  • Joint disorders
  • Teeth grinding
  • Infections

If left untreated lockjaw can cause:

  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Impaired speech.
  • Decreased production of saliva.
  • Tooth decay.

What You Can Do at Home

Wear a mouth guard while you sleep. This prevents nighttime teeth grinding, which can lead to a tight and tense jaw.

Try using either cold or hot compresses on your jaw. This may provide some relief.

To ease the tension associated with lockjaw, do some facial exercises:

  • Open your mouth and rub the muscles next to your ears.
  • Repeatedly open and close your mouth in small movements. This may
    reduce some muscle tightness in your jaw.
  • Smile as wide as is comfortable for you. Inhale as you smile and
    exhale as you let go of the smile. Smiling can reduce stress in your facial

Never try any of these exercises if your jaw is incredibly painful. Forced movement may make the problem worse.

When To See a Dentist

If your lockjaw persists for more than a couple of days, you need to see a professional. Know the options available to you in case you experience lockjaw.

A dentist can:

  • Take X-rays to determine the source of your lockjaw.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Manually adjust your jaw in their office.
  • Recommend Botox injections to loosen your jaw.
  • Perform corrective surgery.

These procedures are more effective than home remedies in correcting persistent lockjaw.

Mouth Burn

Mouth burns are common. They happen when a person consumes very hot food or beverage. If not treated promptly, the patient experiences a slow healing process. In the worst of cases, infection or permanent nerve damage result.

Mouth burns are very painful but can be treated at home with the right techniques.

What You Can Do at Home

Upon burning your mouth, try these techniques at home:

  • Drink cold water to inhibit damage.
  • Drink milk to relieve itching as your wound heals.
  • Apply an Aloe Vera gel to the burn to reduce discomfort (just make
    sure it’s meant for oral administration).
  • Allow the burned skin to heal on its own. Gently brush your teeth
    and don’t pick at peeling skin.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water to prevent infection.

When To See a Dentist:

First-degree mouth burns can usually be treated at home. However, if you suspect that your mouth burn is of the second or third degree, visit a dentist immediately. Signs of a second- or third-degree burn include clear blisters and darkening and weeping skin.

Older adults and infants may benefit from seeing a dentist, as they are more likely to have a difficult recovery from a mouth burn.

See a dentist if you experience prolonged burning over the course of several days. Persistent burning could indicate burning mouth syndrome (BMS). BMS requires oral medications and cognitive behavioural therapy to soothe nerve pain.

Cracked Tooth

Receiving a blow to your face or biting down something hard can result in a cracked or chipped tooth. This is both an aesthetic and structural problem. Ignoring the issue can result in infection or further damage.

What You Can Do At Home:

You should always see a dentist in the event of a cracked tooth. Here are some steps to follow if you can’t see a dentist right away:

  • Rinse your mouth with plain water to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if needed.
  • Avoid eating if possible. If you must eat, go for sugar-free
    foods. Chew on the other side of your mouth.
  • For a cracked tooth with a particularly sharp edge, apply a piece
    of wax paraffin to it. This prevents it from cutting the inside of your mouth.

When To See a Dentist:

Always try to see a dentist as soon as possible. To prevent infection and restore a tooth’s function, a dentist reattaches the broken piece or performs a root canal treatment.

Object Stuck in Tooth

Fibrous foods, pencil stubs, pieces of dental floss, and plastic can get stuck in-between your teeth.

What You Can Do at Home:

Use dental floss to gently remove the stuck object. You can also try rinsing your mouth with lukewarm water to dislodge the object. Don’t continue these methods if you experience pain or discomfort.

When To See a Dentist:

If the object is particularly sharp, it’s recommended to see a dentist. A sharp object can cause damage to your gums, tongue, or mouth tissue if left in your mouth for a long time.

If the object is tightly lodged in-between your teeth, do not use excessive force to remove it. Doing so may cause damage to your gums or surrounding teeth. A professional knows how to safely remove foreign objects from in-between teeth.

Bottom Line

If you are ever unsure of how to deal with any of these incidents, get in contact with us at Crescent Heights Dental. Our team efficiently handles dental emergencies. Rest assured knowing you have a dedicated group of professionals ready to assist you, no matter the problem you have in your mouth.

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