Dental emergencies can happen at any time, and are scary and stressful. If you or a loved one has a dental emergency, please call Lincoln Park Smiles dentistry at 312-337-1665, and we will schedule you in as soon as possible. If an accident occurs after hours, and you cannot get in touch with us, please go to your local emergency room.
Having a little bit of knowledge can help you remain calm until you are able to receive professional help. Here are some of the most common dental emergencies, and how to deal with them:
- Knocked-Out Tooth: If a permanent or adult tooth falls out, there is a good chance the tooth can be saved and reinserted by a dentist. However, time is of the essence, and the longer you wait to re-implant the tooth, the less chance that strategy will be successful. Call us immediately for an emergency appointment. Try to pick up the tooth by its top (crown) and avoid touching the root(s). Carefully rinse the tooth to get rid of debris. You may try placing it back in the socket, holding it gently in place while trying to bite down. If you cannot reinsert the tooth into the socket, put it in a small container or cup of milk until your appointment.
- Cracked Tooth: Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply cold compresses to your face to minimize any swelling. Take acetaminophen for pain, but avoid aspirin, as it can thin the blood and lead to excessive bleeding. If your tooth is chipped and doesn’t hurt, you can wait a few days to see us. Be careful while chewing so you don’t chip the tooth further. We can repair the chip with composite filling material. If your tooth is cracked or fractured, this is more serious, and you should call us immediately for an emergency appointment. We may take an X-ray to check the condition of your tooth and then review your treatment options with you.
- Toothache: Rinse your mouth with warm water and remove any food caught between your teeth with dental floss. Avoid putting aspirin on aching teeth or gums, as it may burn the gum tissue. If the pain is severe and persists, call us for an appointment.
- Jaw Fracture: Apply cold compresses to the jaw to minimize swelling. Call our office or go to the local emergency room for immediate medical attention.
- Infection or Abscess: You need professional dental treatment to drain the abscess, stop the spread of infection and save the tooth. Call us immediately to schedule an appointment. We may need to perform a root canal — or if that won’t help, extract the infected tooth.
How to Avoid a Dental Emergency
The American Dental Association has several suggestions for avoiding a dental emergency.
Wear a mouth guard while playing sports or other physical activities (especially sports where contact is likely, such as football or hockey). Custom-fitted mouth guards are personalized to the exact dimensions of your teeth and mouth. Boil and bite mouth guards (found in sporting goods stores and drugstores) may not fit as well as custom-fitted guards, but are designed to adapt to the shape of your mouth and are a more economical choice.
Try to avoid biting down on hard foods like ice, hard candy and popcorn kernels, all of which can cause a tooth fracture.
Don’t use your teeth to cut things. Reach for a pair of scissors instead.
It’s also a good idea to keep a small dental first aid kit at home or in your car, just in case. This kit should contain a small container with a lid (to hold a tooth), acetaminophen for pain, gauze, a handkerchief and the contact information of your dentist.
Contact Lincoln Park Smiles
If you would like more information about dental emergencies, or need to schedule an appointment, please call us at 312-337-1665. If you need immediate medical attention and cannot reach our office, please call 911 or go to the hospital emergency room.