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Be prepared for a dental emergency

Posted 2/13/2007   Updated 2/13/2007 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Latisha Brunson
325th AMDS

2/13/2007 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Dental emergencies - from injuries to a painful, abscessed tooth - take place every day. 

February is Children's Dental Health Month, and the 325th Aeromedical-Dental Squadron would like Team Tyndall to be aware of what to do in a dental emergency. 

Knowing what to do can lessen the pain and save a tooth that might otherwise be lost.
Keep your dental office phone number and an emergency number where the dentist can be reached after hours with other emergency numbers such as your family doctor and fire and police departments. 

Some families post these numbers on the refrigerator or inside a kitchen cabinet door near the phone. Call the dentist immediately for instructions on how to handle a dental emergency. 

The following information describes what to do in some situations, but is not a substitute for the advice of a dentist. 

Toothache: Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss or an inter-dental cleaner to remove any food or other debris that may be caught between the teeth. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth. This could burn gum tissue. If the toothache persists, try to see the dentist. Don't rely on painkillers. They may temporarily relieve pain, but your dentist should evaluate the condition. 

Knocked out or avulsed tooth: Try to find the tooth and stay calm. Hold the tooth by the crown and rinse the root in water if the tooth is dirty. Don't scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If it's possible, gently hold the tooth in its socket while you head to the dentist. If that's not possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk and bring it to the dentist. Time is critical for successful reimplantation, so get to your dentist immediately. 

Broken tooth: Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Use a cold compress on the outside of the cheek to help reduce swelling and contact your dentist. 

Tongue or lip bites or wounds: Clean the area gently with a clean cloth and apply a cold compress to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding can't be controlled, go to a hospital, emergency room or clinic. You may be able to reduce bleeding from the tongue by pulling it forward and using gauze to put pressure on the wound. 

Objects caught between teeth: Try to gently remove the object with dental floss. Never use a sharp instrument to remove any object that is stuck between your teeth. If you can't dislodge the object with floss, contact your dentist. 

Possible broken jaw: Apply a cold compress to control swelling. Go to a hospital emergency room immediately. 

In case of a dental emergency or to make a dental appointment, active duty personnel
can call the appointment line at 283-2778.

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