You’ve heard time and again that you should remain calm during an emergency. The following tips can prepare you so that you won’t need to panic the next time a dental emergency arises.
Step 1: Assess
The first thing to do is evaluate the situation to determine how serious it is. You shouldn’t take long to do this; just look around quickly to decide whether or not the injury needs the attention of emergency services.
For example, if the trauma has affected a large portion of the face and there is heavy bleeding, or the victim is unconscious, you’ll need to get professional emergency help right away.
If you realise that your child is just bleeding from a small cut on his or her lip, then that may be something you can attend to yourself.
Step 2: Clean Up
Have the injured person rinse their mouth out very gently with warm water. They should not swish vigorously; just rinse enough to get out any blood or debris. Salt water is good for cleansing a wound and reducing swelling.
Step 3: Reassure
The injured person may be quite shaken after an injury to the mouth, especially when bleeding is involved. Reassure them as you help clean up that everything will be okay. Calming them down will help you take better care of them during the process.
Step 4: Recover
If there are any broken teeth or restorations that chipped off during the injury, try to recover them. Accounting for the pieces minimises the risk of inadvertently swallowing them. It could also be helpful to show the dentist later what broke off, in case it can be bonded back.
What if an entire tooth was knocked out?
Locate the tooth and pick it up by the crown (chewing portion). Avoid touching the root. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it in milk, saline or the patient’s saliva. DO NOT let it dry out. DO NOT rinse it with water. Use your fingers to remove any gross debris. DO NOT scrub it or remove any attached tissue that is attached. After rinsing off the debris, try to reinsert it back into the injured person’s mouth.
If reinserting the tooth isn’t an option, store it in a container of milk or have the victim keep it in their mouth, holding it between their cheek and teeth. See a dentist as soon as possible.
Step 5: Stop the Bleeding
There is often heavy bleeding with oral injuries. Apply clean gauze to the injured site and have the victim gently bite down to hold the gauze in place. Alternatively, bags of black tea leaves are good for slowing down bleeding.
Step 6: Treat the Pain
The injured person may need to take paracetamol for the pain. Make sure that if they take a painkiller that it’s one their doctor has stated is safe for them.
An icepack on the outside of the face is a good way to numb discomfort as well.
Step 7: Contact a Dentist
Get to a dentist as soon as possible. Ideally, you should have your dentist’s contact information at the ready. It’s important to know who you’ll call when a dental emergency arises and what to do if an injury occurs outside of office hours.
The next time you meet with your local dentist, make a point to discuss your emergency dental treatment options.