Halloween is here! Since the weather doesn’t always give us a good sense of the changing seasons in Central Florida, we tend to keep track of fall in other ways. Halloween Horror Nights is in full swing, those cinnamon brooms are stocked up at Publix, and our neighbors here in Baldwin Park have turned up with the usual amazing Halloween decorations. As excited as we are to have a little fun for the holiday, this is also a time when dentists buckle up for some emergency calls. Sure, ghouls and goblins are great, but dental emergencies can really scare you!
The Day After Halloween Is Emergency Visit Day for Dentists
It may sound crazy, but it’s true: the day after Halloween typically sees more dental emergencies than any other day of the year. It may seem obvious. After all, candy leads to cavities, right?
It is certainly true that many of us become acutely aware of cavities around Halloween. The increased sugar can activate those nerves to start talking, so cavities we’ve been able to ignore suddenly start demanding attention. However, most cavities develop slowly, over time. There are so many other dental emergencies that happen on and around Halloween.
Cracked Teeth: Always a Dental Emergency?
From hard candies to surprise un-popped kernels in your kettle corn, there are so many ways to crack a tooth on Halloween. Surprisingly, however, not every cracked tooth is an absolute emergency. How can you tell the difference?
Not all fractures are the same. Some are simple chips, while others can mean catastrophic failure of the tooth. If the crack is superficial and doesn’t cause you too much discomfort, you can probably make a regular appointment. However, if a large portion of the tooth is missing or if you experience sharp or intense pain, an emergency call may be warranted.
Halloween Candy Can Mean Lost Fillings and Crowns
Sticky and chewy treats may be enjoyable but watch out! That caramel apple could pull off a crown, and toffee can snag a filling right out. It can be frightening to find a dental restoration misplaced! However, much like the situation with cracked teeth, not every lost filling is an emergency, strictly speaking.
The same general rules apply here: assess your level of discomfort and whether you think you can make it a day or two to wait for a regular appointment time. Lost restorations can not only be uncomfortable, they can also be frustrating. After all, once a tooth is repaired, it should stay that way forever, right? Sadly, dental materials do break down over time. If your filling or crown fails, it usually indicates there was a problem with it. Either the seal between restoration and tooth was compromised, or a cavity may have been forming underneath. Whatever the reason, it can be a blessing in disguise sometimes, letting you know there was a problem that otherwise may have gone unnoticed for months.
Especially important to note: if you can hang onto that lost crown, please do! In many cases we can reuse the same crown, which saves you time and money! While it’s not always possible, it is always beneficial for us to see the old crown.
That long black robe may seem super spooky, but watch your step! Kids (and adults) running around in unusual clothes with masks limiting their visibility can lead to lots of trip-and-fall accidents on Halloween. That can mean risking your front teeth, and you could have a real emergency on your hands. If a fall happens and a tooth is displaced, try your best to find the tooth.
Pick the tooth up ONLY BY THE CROWN (the part you can usually see), and avoid touching the root. You can rinse it very gently in cool water just to get most of the dirt off if absolutely necessary, and bring it with you to an emergency dental visit.
To transport the tooth, you can sometimes replace it in the socket, or keep it tucked between your cheek and your gums, all the way down in the vestibule. However, if the person who lost the tooth is too young or if there is a risk the person will swallow the tooth (one too many haunted cocktails, for example), there are emergency preservation kits like Save-A-Tooth. Or you can always use a little milk.
Of course, teeth can wait if there are other injuries from the fall. Rather than calling your dentist, you may want to head to the ER if you think stitches are in order, or if there are any signs of concussions or broken bones, of course.
Unusual Halloween-Related Dental Emergencies
Beyond the usual, Halloween brings with it some really weird dental situations. In one case from 2019, a woman purchased zombie teeth to finish off her costume. The cheap set of chompers came with glue included. Great value, right? Not so much. The glue included in the set lead to the teeth getting stuck and a pricey emergency dental visit.
If you are using any prosthetic teeth, we recommend denture glue such as Polygrip. NEVER use any glue not intended for use on teeth. Also, be careful of rough edges. Many costume teeth are cheaply made and can cut up your gums. Always remove costume teeth before eating, as tempting as it may be to sneak a little candy with your fake teeth still in. If one comes loose while you’re eating, you could swallow it or bite down on it and then we’re back in cracked tooth territory. Just keep that denture glue in your bag so you can reapply after eating.
We hope you have a fun and safe holiday! Of course, we are here if you need us and we always prepare in advance for Emergency Visit Day on November first. Keep smiling and protect those fangs, Orlando!