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Dr. Patricia Berube / Dental Health

Be ready for dental emergencies

Summer is here and so are summer vacations. The normal preparations include where to go, how long to stay, what to pack and what activities will be appropriate for you, your kids, parents, etc.

You have scheduled your doctor’s and dentist’s appointments for when you get back or right before school starts again, so you feel like you’ve got all your bases covered.

But I would venture to guess that you aren’t really thinking about your oral health during these vacations.

You know that it is Murphy’s Law that if you are going to have a dental problem, it will be at the most inopportune time, such as a weekend, holiday or while on vacation.

So, what do you do if you have a dental issue while away from your regular dentist at home?

I will try to navigate you through some simple solutions while on the road.

The first scenario occurs when you are sitting down to your five-star dinner and you notice a hard lump in your mashed potatoes. Your crown has come off.

It is important to put it back in a timely manner since the teeth will shift and you will likely experience sensitivity, which is normal.

You can try to see a local dentist to re-cement the crown.

If this is not possible, they do sell temporary cement in the dental aisle of most drugstores that can be used to re-cement the crown. The instructions are relatively simple to follow.

When you are back home, please see your regular dentist to evaluate.

You may have a cavity under the crown that needs to be addressed. Please do not use this temporary fix as a permanent solution.

The next scenario is that you wake up in the middle of the night and you realize you have a full-fledged toothache. The first thing you do is call your regular general dentist.

After a few questions, the dentist usually has a pretty good idea of what is going on and may be able to call in an antibiotic and/or pain prescription for you and discuss the best ways to manage your situation. In some cases, the dentist may be able to direct you where to go.

Often people seek relief from an emergency room, but often times they can’t be that much more helpful than your dentist can be over the phone.

The exception to that rule is if you have a major swelling on the side of your face, which needs prompt attention with IV antibiotics and drainage.

This is a severe medical emergency.

The next scenario is trauma where you fell and fractured a tooth or the tooth is completely out.This also needs immediate attention.

It is still important to call your regular dentist first because the dentist can help guide you about who you need to see and if an emergency room visit is warranted.

If the tooth is completely out, put it in a cup of saliva or milk and bring it with you to whatever dentist you can find. Many times these teeth can be re-implanted as long as they haven’t been out of the mouth for too long.

Along the same lines, if your child falls and you notice a lot of bleeding, try to remain calm.

When kids traumatize something in their mouth, they bleed a lot. This is pretty normal.

Get a tea bag if you have it, put it in cold water and place firm pressure on the wound. If you don’t have a tea bag, fold a damp paper towel and apply continuous pressure (if it is dry, it can lead to more bleeding when you remove it).

Be patient and it will stop bleeding in most situations.

The severity of the trauma will prompt you to decide if an emergency room visit is necessary.

I hope these scenarios don’t occur, but hopefully you will keep this article in the back of your mind and have some solutions.

DR. PATRICIA BERUBE is a periodontist who received her dental degree at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine and her certificate and master’s degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and is currently in private practice in Denton. For more information, visit .