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When disaster strikes, protect your smile

When you create a disaster plan for your family, you might not consider your oral health. But dental challenges can arise at any time, and knowing what to do if you can’t reach your family dentist will help you stay comfortable and healthy.

Dental emergencies: If you experience oral pain, swelling or bleeding, visit a dentist as soon as possible. For severe dental or facial pain or swelling, seek immediate medical attention.

Orthodontic care: Don’t worry if a disaster prevents you from an orthodontic appointment; it’s usually possible to wait an additional month or two between adjustments. If your orthodontic appliances are damaged or irritating your oral tissues and you can’t reach your orthodontist, try contacting a regular dentist for help. Most dentists can treat minor orthodontic emergencies.

Temporary crowns or bridges: Temporary crowns and bridges should be checked and possibly recemented within a month after placement. If you are wearing a temporary crown or bridge and cannot visit your regular dentist within a month, contact another dentist to have your restoration checked. To keep your temporary crown or bridge safely in place, avoid eating and biting on it, try to keep it clean and do not chew hard or sticky foods.

Routine exams and periodontal cleanings: If you are not experiencing pain or discomfort, it should not be a problem to delay a routine dental exam or periodontal cleaning because of a natural disaster. Remember to reschedule your appointment when your dentist is available.

If you have any other questions about how to handle oral health issues during an emergency, contact your dentist. As with any emergency preparation, the best time to make a plan is before disaster strikes.

Last updated: June 2014