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Dental emergencies can happen at any time, even if you take safety precautions, like wearing an athletic mouth guard during high-impact sports and recreational activities. Trauma to the teeth or gums can turn out to be serious if you don’t have it treated as soon as possible. It is also important to note that taking care of a dental problem early on is usually least invasively and least costly to treat. So what are some common dental problems and how should you take care of them?

For a toothache, you can rinse with warm water and use some dental floss to loosen any stuck food. If there’s also swelling, place a cold compress on the outside of the face near the aching tooth. Call our office to see our dentist as soon as you can.

If you have a broken or chipped tooth, you can rinse your mouth with warm water, including the broken pieces of the tooth and save them. Putting gauze on the area of bleeding can help while it clots. If there’s swelling, you can put a cold compress on the outside of the area and call our office so our dentist can check out the injured area.

If you’ve gone full-on Rocky Balboa and your tooth is knocked out, find the tooth if you can. Hold it by the crown so you don’t damage the tooth root. Rinse it with water, and either put the tooth gently back in the socket or barring that, in a small cup with milk or saltwater (mix 1/2 tsp salt into a cup of water). There are also over the counter tooth saving containers, like “Save a Tooth” that you can keep on hand for just such an emergency. Be sure to call our office right away so we can get you in. Your best chance of saving a knocked-out tooth is to see our dentist within the hour of your injury.

If you have a tooth that came loose but is still attached, you still want to come in ASAP. Until then, you can put a cold compress on the outside of the area, and if you really need it, take some over the counter pain reliever.

For a lost dental restoration like a filling or crown, you will also want to be seen by the dentist. For a filling, you can place a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity or some OTC dental cement. If you’re dealing with a lost crown, call our office asap. For pain, you can put some clove oil from your grocery store to the area that hurts. If you can, place the crown back on the tooth and hold it there with some toothpaste or dental cement.

If you’re wearing braces, and something breaks or ends up poking your oral tissues, you can stick a piece of a pencil eraser on it to push the wire into a less invasive position. You can also put some orthodontic wax over it until you can see our dentist.

So an abscess is an infection in the connective tissue between the teeth and gums or on the tooth root. You want to come in as soon as possible because it can spread to other areas in the body, in addition to wreaking havoc on your oral tissues and nearby teeth. While you wait you can rinse the area with warm saltwater a few times during the day.

For oral tissue injuries – lips, cheeks, gums or tongue – and there is bleeding, you can rinse with some warm salt water first. Then you can put some gauze (or a tea bag) over the area for 15-20 minutes to help staunch the bleeding. If you have pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the area for 5-10 minutes. If for some reason the bleeding continues, you’ll want to see our dentist immediately or go to a hospital ER.

For a dental emergency, please call our Morrison Dental Group team in Richmond, Virginia, at 804-261-4020 right away. If you have trauma to your head or neck, please go to the emergency room or see your doctor before seeing our dentist, even if your mouth is injured. Together we can help you keep your mouth healthy for a lifetime of smiles!