Tooth Tips for Later Life

What to Avoid When You Need to See an Emergency Dentist

Never overlook any type of dental emergency, as even a minor cut or gash, if left untreated, can lead to a serious infection in the mouth. An immediate trip to the emergency clinic can also mean less risk of permanent tooth loss and other such long-term damage. However, if you ever do experience a dental emergency, note a few things to avoid before you go, so you have the best possible outcome.

Using topical ointments and treatments

If you've knocked out a tooth or suffered any type of impact to the jaw, you may be tempted to use topical ointments, such as those meant for a baby's toothache or any open wound. You may have even heard to put aspirin on an open wound in the mouth to protect the tissue. This can be a mistake, as some topical ointments and treatments are too strong for use on an open sore in the mouth; this is especially true of aspirin, which can outright burn the tissue of the gums. Use an ice pack if you need to manage pain in the jaw, but avoid putting any other substances in the mouth.

Touching the tooth or wound

If a tooth has been knocked out, you can retrieve it and bring it with you to the dental clinic, as a dentist may be able to suture it back into place. However, you want to avoid holding it in your hands for the entire trip! Pick it up by the crown, not the roots, and put it in water or milk. If you don't have access to either liquid, wrap the tooth in a clean plastic bag to keep it from collecting germs. If you have an open wound in your mouth, don't touch it with anything but fresh, clean gauze; this includes your tongue, as your tongue holds germs that can be dangerous to the wound.

Drinking or eating

If you have a long wait before you can see an emergency dentist, you may get hungry and thirsty, but it's good to avoid eating or drinking. If you've suffered an impact to the face, you may have a broken jaw, and even slight chewing can mean making the damage worse. Fluids, and especially those high in acid content, might irritate an open wound in the mouth. You might suck on ice chips to numb the pain and help keep you hydrated while you wait to see your dentist, but avoid putting anything else in the mouth, no matter how hungry and thirsty you get.