Accidents happen all the time and not all of them require immediate care. But if you've had an injury to your teeth, mouth or jaw, you should see a dentist right away. If you’re not sure your problem is an emergency, here’s a list of the most common ones -- plus a few things you can do to minimize pain and damage before seeing your dentist:
Broken Tooth -- Save any pieces of the broken tooth and rinse your mouth out with warm water. Apply a cold compress to the area to decrease swelling and pain until you can be seen by the dentist.
Broken Jaw -- Apply a cold compress to limit swelling and see your dentist right away.
Knocked-Out Tooth -- Gently rinse off the knocked out tooth without removing any attached tissue. If possible, hold the tooth in place in the socket. Otherwise, put the tooth in a glass of milk and get to your dentist right away.
Something Stuck in Your Teeth -- Carefully try to remove the object with dental floss. (Don't try using a sharp instrument!) If you're unable to dislodge the object with dental floss, contact your dentist.
Toothache -- Rinse your mouth out with warm water. Then use dental floss to make sure there isn't any food or other debris causing the pain. If the pain persists, call the dentist.
Lost Dental Filling or Dental Crown -- For dental fillings, seal the area with a piece of sugarless gum or over-the-counter dental cement. If a dental crown has come loose, try to put it back in place with dental cement. If that doesn't work, bring it with you to the dentist.
Dental Abscess -- If you notice a painful, pimple-like swelling on your gums, rinse with salt water and immediately contact your dentist. Dental abscesses can lead to more serious infections if not promptly treated.