The holidays are a great time to spend with family and friends. But even at this joyful time of year, accidents and unexpected emergencies can happen. If you have a dental problem over the holidays, chances are that you won’t be able to see your dentist until after the holiday. Here are a few helpful tips on what to do in the meantime.
- A toothache – Most of the time, a toothache isn’t serious. Rinsing out your mouth with warm saltwater should help to alleviate the discomfort. But if you are experiencing a lot of pain and/or swelling, it could be an indication that infection is present, and infections need to be treated right away, so be sure to get in to see your dentist as soon as possible.
- A lost filling or crown – If you lose a filling or a crown, there are a few methods to temporarily hold the restoration in place until you can see your dentist. An over-the-counter denture adhesive may work to hold a loose crown in place for a short period of time. And, believe it or not, you can even try sugar-free gum to temporarily hold a filling in place. Just be sure to call your dentist and make an appointment as soon as you can because, obviously, these methods won’t last long.
- A loose tooth – If you can, leave the tooth in the socket until you’re able to visit the dentist. This makes it much easier to save the tooth. Over-the-counter pain relievers can ease the pain. You might also consider applying a cold compress to the outside of the mouth in the area where the tooth is loose.
- A broken tooth – Save the piece of broken tooth if you can, and rinse your mouth out with warm water. If your gums are bleeding, apply gauze until the bleeding stops. Applying a cold compress on the outside of the mouth will reduce pain and swelling, if there is any.
- A knocked-out tooth – If you lose a tooth, it’s important to save the tooth, wash it off, and keep it moist. Don’t handle the root of the tooth; instead, hold it by its crown. If you can replace the tooth in its socket, that’s ideal. But if you can’t, keep it in a small container filled with salt water or milk. If you can get in to see your dentist within a few hours, there is some chance that you can save the tooth. But if you have to wait for a few days – like you might over the holidays, for example – the chances of saving the tooth are slim. If your gums are bleeding, apply gauze until the bleeding stops. If you’re in pain, try washing out your mouth with warm water every few hours and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever as directed on the label. A cold compress applied to the outside of the mouth can also reduce pain and swelling.
The important thing to remember when it comes to dental emergencies is to call your dentist right away. Many dental offices have emergency phone numbers, or at least an answering service that can make sure your dentist receives a message as soon as possible. If you are experiencing a lot of pain or bleeding, don’t hesitate to visit an emergency room at a local hospital or an urgent care facility.