Dental first aid is rarely taught in first-aid classes and most first-aid kits do not include basic dental supplies, it is a good idea for you to prepare yourself now. A stitch in time saves nine – dealing promptly with a minor problem will prevent it from developing into a more complicated or larger-scale problem.
The key to preventing most dental emergencies is the same as the key to maintaining good oral health: See your dentist regularly. Dentists can spot dental problems before they become emergencies.
However, there is no way for you to predict when a dental emergency will occur. You could be sitting at home, watching the news or gisting with a friend or on a vacation or chewing waakye (rice & beans) and you unexpectedly crush some stone. It can come on without warning and knock you right off your feet. If you’ve ever had one, you know what I mean. While the best thing to do is get to a dentist immediately, I understand that’s not always possible. Because it could be a weekend with no dentist available or a three-day trip away or dental anxiety (click here to read on how to get familiar with the dental chair)
You might be able to get by until Monday if it’s a weekend, by trying some of these tips. Remember, no matter what your dental emergency is, it is important to consult a dentist as soon as possible especially if it happens on a week day, don’t delay.
Toothache from hole in tooth:
Toothaches are the result of an inflammation of the nerves inside the teeth. A toothache is a horrible thing to endure and it always signals that something is wrong. It usually start as intermittent pain, (ie pain comes and goes and most people ignore), I usually tell patients “that is God giving you signal”. If left untreated it can lead to serious health problems beyond the infected tooth. Remember blood goes everywhere, an infection can travel.
If you are in severe pain or have swelling in or around your mouth, contacting a dental surgeon should be your first priority. These tips are to limit the pain and inflammation to temporarily ease discomfort Toothaches won’t just go away. Your ULTIMATE toothache remedy will come from a dentist.
- Rinse the mouth out with warm water to clean it out.
- Gently use dental floss or an inter-dental cleaner to ensure that there is no food or other debris caught between the teeth and in the cavity.
- NEVER put aspirin or any other painkiller NEVER NEVER put battery acid/ Gentian violet or herbs or whatever your ancestors passed down against the gums near the aching tooth or in the cavity, because it may burn the gum tissue. Rather swallow the pain killers for pain relieve.
Chipped or Broken Tooth:
For example from either bad habit of opening sealed bottles or accidentally chewing on a stone in food
- Gently clean dirt from the injured area with warm water.
- Protect the tooth from further exposure to air or cold liquid (cover with sterile gauze/ clean cloth).
- Place a cold compress (ice pack) over the face, in the area of the injured tooth, to decrease the swelling.
- If an exposed pulp is obvious, or there is bleeding advise to see a dentist immediately.
Tooth Injuries and Traumas
Impact due to a fall or blow or road traffic accident may cause a tooth to become loose, shift its position or fall out. It is a good idea to see a dentist as soon as this happens so he or she can evaluate the knocked out tooth and reposition or splint it if necessary. But there are a few things you can do to maximize recovery.
- A permanent/ adult tooth that has shifted out of place can be re-positioned with steady, gentle pressure.
- If the tooth is very loose, gently biting on a piece of clean handkerchief / cloth can help hold it in place until you get to a dentist
- If your adult tooth gets completely knocked out, what you do in the 30 minutes after will determine whether the tooth can be saved. When the ligaments that hold the tooth in place are torn, the tooth dies.
- If the tooth is re-implanted in its socket within 30 minutes of its removal, the ligaments are usually able to reattach. The tooth may still require a root canal to remove dead nerve tissue, but it will function like a normal tooth.
- Immediately attempt to locate the lost tooth. Handle the tooth by the top (crown/chewing part)), not the root portion. If the tooth cannot be found, look in the mouth area where the tooth should be to make sure it is not stuck in the soft tissue.
- If the tooth can be located and is dirty, rinse it gently in running water. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments.
- Replace the tooth in the tooth socket using steady, gentle pressure and bite down lightly on a piece of gauze/ clean handkerchief to hold it in place. See a dentist immediately to have the tooth stabilized.
- If the tooth cannot be immediately implanted, it should be transported carefully in a container of saline solution (a cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt), milk or saliva to keep it moist while being taken to a dentist.
Bitten Lip or Tongue:
- Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth, hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If swelling is present, apply a cold compress. (Ice cubes wrapped in cloth) for 5 to 10 minutes.
- If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes, advised to go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
- If the cut is deep it might need sutures to restore the anatomy and control bleeding.
Objects Caught Between Teeth
- Try to gently remove the object with dental floss or use a toothpick to remove food objects.
- Avoid cutting the gums. Never use a sharp instrument to remove any object that is stuck between your teeth. If you can’t dislodge the object using dental floss, contact your dentist.
Swollen/ bleeding gums
Remember bleeding gums is not normal it is a sign of gingivitis. Gums are red and swollen, and may bleed when teeth are brushed.
To help alleviate discomfort,
- Use soft bristled toothbrush and rinse mouth with warm salt water or antibacterial mouthwash. Not the colourful minty mouthwash, preferably chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse.
- Oral pain medication or anti-inflammatory medication can also be taken. Be sure to visit your dentist for a proper diagnosis.
So far we have talked about dental First Aid and not Final Aid for emergencies affecting our natural permanent /adult tooth, next week we will look at emergencies for restored/replaced tooth ie broken dentures, pinching wires from braces.
Thanks for reading, See you same time next week, Happy Teethlicious Tuesday! Stay Gorgeous Stay Professional!
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Dr Oyaks is an oral health care blogger at Ghanahealthnest.com, a fully qualified practicing dental surgeon on a path to become an Oral & Maxillofacial surgeon. She has a passion to educate the public on oral health because it all starts in the mouth, Healthy mouth, Healthy body. Her life goal is to stay connected to the vine, stay gorgeous & stay professional. See more at www.DrOyaks.me