How to Handle Dental Emergencies Over the Holidays

Holiday dental emergencies stink. A dental emergency – a dental accident or dental injury that happens unexpectedly and that must be addressed immediately to prevent further damage or harm – is not only urgent, but also a total bummer when it happens over the holidays.

Why are holiday dental emergencies so tough? First, the dental emergency often interrupts the joyous time being spent with family and friends.

Second, when dental emergencies happen, it can be difficult to find emergency dental treatment. Specifically, because many dental offices – dental offices in Milwaukee or Greenfield or anywhere – are often closed for business over the holidays.

The good news is that many dental emergencies can wait a day until many dental offices are open again. Furthermore, many accidents involving dental issues can be treated in a standard ER (emergency room) initially, and then referred to a dentist within a few days. Moreover, some emergency rooms even have dental specialists – such as an oral surgeon – who can be called in for situations where such expertise is critical.

The key to making sure your dental emergency is properly attended is knowing what constitutes a true dental emergency, what can wait a day or two to be addressed, and for those things that can wait, what to do in the meantime to make certain a bigger problem is not created.

What is considered a dental emergency?

A tooth being knocked out is a dental emergency.

If the tooth comes out all the way, DO make sure to find it and keep it if possible. However, DO NOT handle it by the root. Sometimes when a tooth is knocked out, if preserved correctly, it might be able to be reinserted.

If you have milk available, drop the tooth in the milk to clean it. If you don’t have milk, then be certain to rinse the tooth but don’t use soap, don’t scrub it roughly, and don’t remove any material still attached.

For an adult, it’s best to try and place the tooth – after it’s rinsed – into the socket area if possible. Don’t try this with young children, however, because there is too much of a risk they will swallow it. If the tooth isn’t placed back in the mouth, and milk is available, place it in the milk for transport. Alternately, have the “patient” spit into a cup and carry the tooth in the spit. If for some reason that can’t be done, then as a last resort it can be put in water but really try to do one of the other mentioned options because regular water can harm the root of the tooth quickly.

If the tooth is knocked slightly out – but not completely – this is still a dental emergency.

In this case, try and gently nudge it back in place with a finger. However, don’t force it into place. Then, follow the same protocol as above.

A cracked or fractured tooth is a dental emergency.

First, it’s important to know that a cracked or fractured tooth is different from a chipped tooth. A chipped tooth that doesn’t hurt, isn’t a dental emergency. On the other hand, a cracked or fractured tooth is because often, the tooth has also been injured on the inside.

Mouth or gum tissue damage that is significant needs emergency dental treatment.

This type of dental injury includes serious lacerations or deep punctures with bleeding that won’t stop with normal pressure. In a situation such as either of these, rinse the mouth with warm water and seek emergency dental treatment.

Summarily, whether it’s a holiday or any day, an emergency dental situation is one where the tooth has been lost, is in danger of being lost if there is not treatment, and/or if there is a severe or worsening infection of the tooth or gums (as indicated by fever, swelling, or A LOT of pain). Additionally, if there is sudden, unexplained, extreme, pain in the mouth or gums of any kind, you should seek emergency dental treatment too.

Otherwise, you can likely wait out your dental condition and visit your dentist as soon as possible. This being said, if your Milwaukee dentist or Greenfield dentist has an emergency number for patients, you should call it and explain your scenario or condition—just to be safe. Then, armed with that advice and information, you can go on with your holiday, assured you have done the right thing for you and your immediate and long-term dental health.

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