How to deal with dental emergencies during the Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown until you can reach your dentist for a more permanent solution.
What can you do about dental emergencies when you are on lock down? Here are some very temporary solutions to apply when you can’t reach a dentist promptly.
If you find yourself with an unexpected dental problem these tips can help until you can see your dentist to treat the problem more permanently. Make sure that you check with your physician if there are any suggestions that involve medications or rinses such as salt before you try these.
Chipped or broken tooth
Usually caused by an underlying cavity which has hollowed out the tooth leaving an eggshell thin layer which then breaks down, or excessive pressure from clenching and grinding the teeth leaving sharp edges that irritate the tongue, or by a big filling that has loosened over time. Gently smooth any rough edges with an emery board. Try to smooth only the chipped tooth and no others. Avoid touching the chipped area with your tongue. There are some soothing remedies over the counter which can be applied to your tongue if it gets sore from constantly touching the chipped area. Check at your pharmacy for these.
If there is a sharp edge, follow the instructions for chipped tooth above. The pharmacy sells some temporary filling material that can help by temporarily plugging the opening, so food and hot or cold cant reach the inside of the tooth. Avoid chewing in that area until the filling can be replaced.
When the jaw joint gets painful from overuse or from misalignment of the parts, the discomfort can prevent eating and talking for long periods of time. To help heal, avoid sticky or chewy or hard crunchy foods. Limit speech. Limit opening to no more than 50% of widest opening. Place cold compresses on the outside of the joint for the first 24 hours and then warm compresses thereafter. Physically take note of any clenching and grinding behaviors which are frequently subconscious and try to eliminate or reduce them, so the muscles and joints have a chance to heal.
Place Ice 20 min on and 20 min off on the outside of the swollen area. Also use a teaspoon of salt in a glass of very warm water to rinse the inside of your mouth between 3 to 5 times per day. Ask your physician for advice if you have high blood pressure or any heart condition that precludes the use of salt.
This can be a precursor to a genuine medical emergency, so if swelling is increasing seek medical attention quickly.
Two regular strength Tylenol and one regular strength Advil can be as effective as a narcotic pain medication without the common side effects. Make sure that you don’t exceed the limits or no more that 4 times per day and no more than a total of 4 days. Ask your physician for advice concerning any medical conditions you have before taking any medications. If swelling occurs, then follow the suggestions listed here. Most acute tooth pain peaks for about 24 hours and then subsides. The underlying condition usually doesn’t disappear though, so finding dental treatment as soon as practical is advisable.
This is usually caused by bacteria that colonize the outside of teeth and the inside of gum tissue pockets. Use an electric brush, floss, use a water pick, and I recommend a non-alcohol mouth rinse with antibacterial properties. In most cases this starts when dental cleanings are overdue. Temporarily rinse with dilute peroxide (.5 to 1.5%) and brush with baking soda to neutralize the acids and suppress the bacterial burden in the mouth, until the bleeding reduces or disappears. Schedule a cleaning as soon as it is practical.
Usually caused by gum infection but can arise when the inside of a tooth (the root canal) becomes infected and over time the infection travels beyond the root. Rinse with a teaspoon of salt in a glass of very warm water between 3 to 5 times per day Gum swelling can become jaw swelling which if it gets worse may require immediate medical/dental intervention. Follow the directions for gum bleeding, and the swelling may diminish. If it increases jaw swelling may occur. If this occurs, then seek medical or dental attention as soon as practical.
Typically, a symptom of gum recession, clenching and grinding cavities or the use of products with tooth whitening ingredients. Switch to a non-whitening toothpaste, avoid foods with cold temperatures, and eat on the opposite side. Use a desensitizing toothpaste or gel until a professional opinion can be obtained.
Most hot sensitivity starts when a tooth root canal becomes infected. At this point gases build up inside the tooth and external heat causes expansive pressure which presses on the tissues and bone holding the tooth. If not treated with a root canal this can become jaw or gum swelling.
A loose tooth usually becomes loose from trauma (getting hit), from gum disease, from internal infection, or from an unbalanced bite. IF there is trauma, sometimes the tooth will get tighter with time. Seeing a dentist is important because some loose teeth may require splinting, or temporary tethering to the neighboring teeth. Teeth that have internal infection can mostly be treated with root canal therapy, preserving the tooth and eliminating the infection. An unbalanced bite can cause a tooth to be so loose that it seems ready to fall out, but balancing the bite allows it to heal and become much stronger. Gum disease and loose teeth usually does not have a great outcome. With proper treatment, some teeth can be saved, but unfortunately some may have to be removed. Its best to have a good long-term relationship with your dentist to avoid this type of complication.
Loose crown or bridge
Sometimes, cleaning out the inside of the crown or bridge with a toothpick allows the appliance to be replaced on the tooth. The best idea is to use a thin coat of Vaseline inside the appliance and reseat it on the teeth. In some cases, this will be enough to keep it in place. If it loosens quickly, do not leave it in your mouth at night to present aspiration or swallowing. If it is very loose, the pharmacy can supply a temporary cement. Be careful not to use too thick a layer, because that will cause the appliance to be reseated at an angle and cause tooth or jaw pain when chewing. If this happens, remove the crown, clean it out and reseat it with a thinner layer of temporary cement. Try to have you dentist recement it properly as soon as you can.
Some broken appliances are not safe to leave in the mouth since they can be swallowed. If the appliance is large enough, and the break is small enough then smooth any sharp areas with an emery board, so they don’t irritate your tongue. Sometimes the break is too large, and the appliance can’t be reseated. Unfortunately, the only good solution at this point is to wait until your dentist can repair it to make sure it fits and will still be usable.