by Janhavi Rane, DDS

One of the common trends with dental emergencies is that, the quicker you get treatment, the better long-term prospect it usually has. As more people are realizing the benefits of early treatment, emergency dental kits are becoming quite popular. These kits contain a variety of dental treatments for emergency situations and can be bought in pharmacies and supermarkets. A dental repair kit is not intended to perform permanent repairs. However, it may help patch you up enough to stop the pain, protect your teeth and get professional treatment. Most kits include materials that are milder than your dentist would use. Therefore, they will only stay in place for a short period of time. However, your dental kits can be used effectively for temporary treatment in a number of different scenarios:

Toothache: you may have a toothache caused by a cavity that you cannot see or reach. Your dental kit will usually include some clove oil and cotton wool. Clove oil contains eugenol, a powerful natural pain killer. Dilute it with some olive oil and soak the cotton wool, then bite down on the cotton wool with your affected tooth. This should help soothe the pain temporarily.

Losing a tooth: when you lose a tooth the cavity can bleed quite heavily. Use the cotton wool balls in the kit to staunch the flow of blood. There is also some pain-killing gel that can be used to soothe tender gums.

Losing a filling: a lost filling can make your tooth immediately very sensitive to hot and cold. Your dental kit will include dental cement that can be used to cover the cavity and prevent debris from getting in that could cause pain.

Fracturing a tooth or losing a crown: if the structure of your tooth is weakened by decay, then the tooth can crack. This can be painful and requires immediate professional treatment. In your emergency dental kit, you will find dental cement which can be used to cover the broken tooth and protect it from further damage until you can get to your dentist.

Breaking a denture: this can be uncomfortable and embarrassing to manage without them. An emergency dental kit will include orthodontic wax that can help to smooth the edges of damaged dentures.

Many people find it useful to keep an emergency dental kit. Parents with young children find it reassuring to be able to help their child when they are suffering from tooth pain. Teeth are most vulnerable to decay from ages six to fifteen. This is the time when we are most likely to suffer from a toothache. Therefore, it makes sense to keep a dental repair kit in the home.

People are also attracted to the idea of dental repair kits when travelling. When we go on vacation, we are all used to having injections, taking malaria tablets, mosquito repellent and travel insurance. However, how many of us think about what we would do if there was a dental emergency and we were a long way from the nearest hospital? These kits are also helpful for sports physicians, team coaches and school nurses. Many of the more serious dental traumas occur on the sports field and immediate treatment can often make the difference between losing or saving a tooth.

You do not necessarily have to buy a branded dental repair kit.

Here’s a list to make your own dental emergency kit, it’s a great project for you and your child to do this summer: Clove oil, antiseptic mouthwash, cotton wool, cotton gauze pads, pain relieving gel, acetaminophen tablets (Tylenol), Ibuprofen tablets (Advil), dental examining gloves, dental examining mirror, dental tweezers, dental exploring point, q-tips, dental wax, dental floss, temporary filling material, temporary dental cement, dental ointment for cold sores, salt sticks, toothbrush and toothpaste. These are the basics of any dental emergency kit. These items are available over the counter and have instructions for use.

Of course it is important that you strike the right balance between equipping yourself for emergencies and ensuring that you know when to call your dentist. Remember that home dental repair kits are only designed to provide temporary relief. Many people, especially those afraid of visiting a dentist, will try to attempt what is known as DIY (do it yourself) dentistry. In virtually every case, this is ill advised. Without professional care, the condition of your teeth will deteriorate.

If you have already sustained damage to your teeth, patching it up with a home kit is just a short-term fix. You have not healed the tooth. You have simply bought yourself some time and, hopefully, eased the pain while you wait for your dentist to see you. If you treat your teeth at home as an alternative to visiting your dentist, you will more than likely require more complex and expensive dental work in the future.

Rane’s Exclusively Yours Dental (Main Office), Plainsboro Shopping Center (Super Fresh Plaza), 10 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro, NJ. 609-275-1777. www.ranesdental.com

Rane’s Dental Aesthetics (A Dental Specialty Extension for Orthodontics and Periodontics), New Plainsboro Village (Beside 1st Constitution Bank), 11 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro, NJ. 609-750-1666.

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