Keep Calm and Carry a Dental Emergency Kit
Many wise people have medical first-aid kits in their homes, offices, and vehicles. These thoughtful, practical folks pride themselves on being ready for medical emergencies wherever they go. While first-aid kits offer a limited selection of items that are helpful during dental emergencies, the contents of most kits fall short when it comes to handling the most common critical dental issues.
There are a number of smart reasons to have a dental emergency kit. Most importantly, dental emergencies happen to people of all ages. Whether you live alone or have a large family, it’s a sensible plan to assemble a few items in case you have a tooth-related crisis. With a dental emergency kit, you’ll be prepared to manage the situation until you’re able to see the dentist.
Start With Sterile Gauze or Cotton Rolls
Tooth and mouth injuries often bleed profusely. Blood may also mix with saliva to create a very drippy situation. When you have plenty of cotton rolls or gauze pads available, you can help stop the flow of fluids from the mouth. Use gauze to cover bleeding, cut, or otherwise injured areas in the mouth to help reduce the risk of infection.
Sterile gauze soaked in saline solution may be used to gently clean dirt off of a tooth that has been knocked out. Gauze may also be used to clear away blood inside the mouth to get a better picture of an injury or sudden tooth loss. A small bit of wadded gauze can be used to help if a wire from braces is cutting into the cheek or lip.
Cotton rolls and gauze pads work well when you want a person with a dental emergency to keep a vulnerable tooth in place. For example, if a permanent tooth is merely loose but not totally disengaged from the socket, you want to stabilize the tooth by gently pushing it back into place. Then, have the person bite down on cotton or gauze to keep the tooth from moving until the patient sees the dentist.
Invest in a Tooth-Saving Container
If you have active kids, it’s especially important to keep a container on hand to collect any broken, chipped, or knocked-out teeth. In many cases, a chipped or knocked-out tooth can be restored, but only if the broken or dislocated tooth is handled very carefully immediately after the injury.
There are commercial kits available with solution and a container that are perfect for transporting teeth safely. Alternatively, purchase a small covered cup that will hold milk or a small bit of the patient’s saliva. These fluids will protect the tooth. Never use water to hold the tooth, as the water may damage it.
Always handle a knocked-out tooth by the crown (the chewing part of the tooth above the gum line) and never by the sensitive roots. Save chipped and broken pieces of tooth too. These can often be reattached or used as models to make replacement “teeth.”
Add a Soothing Compress and Ice Pack
Ice packs and soothing cold compresses work wonders for tooth injuries. They also help when a person accidentally bites down on their lip or tongue. These sorts of injuries may happen when kids get a bit too boisterous during play or if a person takes a nasty tumble.
There are a variety of compresses and ice packs on the market, or you can create your own. Simple homemade cold packs are made with zippered plastic bags filled with water, corn syrup, or rice that you leave in the fridge or freezer. Cold packs can be wrapped with soft towels or fabric to make them more comfy for young children.
You’ll want to double- or triple-bag the ingredients to make sure there are no leaks. Use the highest-quality freezer bags for the best results. Patterns for more elaborate head wraps and ice-pack holders are available for the crafty parent or caregiver.
Include Age-Appropriate Pain Medication
Your dental emergency kit should have a few doses of fresh pain reliever for each person in your household. Ibuprofen is normally the pain reliever of choice, but you should consult with your physician or pediatrician to determine which pain killers are safest for your family members.
Topical gum- and tooth-pain gels are not necessary in your kit, as some may damage exposed gum tissue. Don’t rub aspirin on the gum or sore tooth, either. Instead, ask your dentist whether he or she recommends using clove oil or another product for topical pain relief during a dental emergency.
Swishing warm water around in the mouth often brings a measure of relief. Always have a small collapsible cup in your kit, and have a fresh bottle of water in there too.
Additional items to include in your kit are sterile gloves (for handling loose teeth or inspecting the patient’s mouth), dental floss (to clear debris from teeth), and disinfectant hand wipes (to use before and after the dental emergency). Store your dental emergency kit in a mini covered plastic tote, a small satchel, or a large freezer bag.
Your kit won’t take up a lot of room, but it will give you peace of mind and a sense of control if a dental emergency happens to you.
Trust Crest Hill Family Dental to handle all of your dental emergencies with skill and compassion. Place our phone number in your dental emergency kit today, and feel free to contact us for help with any dental questions and concerns.