Dental problems can’t always be timed, and something may happen throughout your day that results in the need for immediate care at our office. We strive to do our best to help you out in any and all oral health-related situations, including emergencies! Of course, one of the first things you should do in the event of a dental emergency is contact our office so that we are able to get you the proper care as soon as possible.
Below are different types of dental emergencies and how to deal with them if they happen to you. Some of them offer you the choice to take acetaminophen if you are experiencing any pain – if that is the case, take only acetaminophen. Do not take medicine like ibuprofen because they are anticoagulants and will result in excessive bleeding.
Types of Dental Emergencies
One of the first things you should do is rinse your mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any food that might be lodged in your teeth. If your mouth is swollen, you can apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek or mouth. Aspirin or other painkillers should not go on the gums near the aching tooth because it could possibly burn the gum tissue. Lastly, contact us and discuss a visit as soon as possible.
If your tooth gets knocked out, it’s important not to panic and to follow certain steps to ensure the proper preservation and eventual reinsertion of your tooth. If all of these steps are followed, there is a higher chance of us being able to resituate your tooth.
- Pick up the tooth by the top (crown) and avoid touching the roots.
- Clean off the tooth with water, be gentle, do not remove any tissue, and ensure it doesn’t fall down the drain by having a washcloth or towel block it.
- If possible, carefully place the tooth back in the socket and hold it there while trying to bite down.
- If you cannot place the tooth back in the socket, put it in between your cheeks and gums, in milk, or in a container with a tooth preservation product that has the ADA seal of approval.
- Call your dentist; it’s essential for you to follow these steps and get to the dentist as soon as you can.
In order to properly care for yourself if a tooth is chipped or broken, you should adhere to specific steps. Note that if your tooth is only chipped and doesn’t hurt, it is not necessarily an emergency and you may wait a few days to see us. However, it is important to see us!
It may become necessary for us to conduct an x-ray to properly assess the state of the fractured tooth. If the tooth pulp, or the soft tissue inside of the tooth, is damaged in some way, we may need to perform a root canal. If this is not the case, we might only have to give your tooth a crown. We will discuss with you whether the crown will be made in or outside the office and, if it is being made outside of our location, we may have you wear a temporary crown. In the end, if the tooth cannot be saved, we will discuss other options for tooth replacement, such as implant-supported repairs or bridges.
Objects Caught Between Teeth
If you are not able to remove the object with dental floss, you should call or come into our office and see us. Never use anything sharp to try and remove it, like a pin, because these objects can scratch your tooth’s surface or cut at your gums.
Partially Dislodged Tooth or Loose/Misaligned Tooth
See us as soon as you can, and until you do, it’s important to apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area to relieve pain. You may also take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
A loose or misaligned constitutes an appointment with us as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, you can attempt to put the tooth back in place with light pressure and your finger or you can bite down to keep the tooth from shifting. However, never force it.
If you lose a filling, a temporary substitute can be found in the form of sticking sugarless gum into the cavity. Do not use gums that contain sugar as they will result in pain developing – or you may use over-the-counter dental cement. See us as soon as you are able!
For a lost crown, make an appointment with us as quickly as possible and be sure to bring the crown with you. If you are in pain and unable to see a dentist right away, you can use a cotton swab to apply a bit of what is called clove oil, which can be bought at either a drug store or the spice aisle of a grocery store, to the area. If you can, coat the inner surface of the crown with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, Chapstick, Vaseline, or denture adhesive and try and slip it back over the tooth. Test the fit for comfort before applying whatever you decide to use, slide the crown on, and bite down on a dry washcloth to apply even pressure. Do not use an adhesive like super glue.
Broken Braces/Wires or Loose Brackets/Bands
If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and it’s agitating your cheeks, tongue, or gums, try using something like the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable spot. If you are unable to reposition it, cover the end with a small cotton ball, orthodontic wax, or a piece of gauze and contact us. We encourage you not to cut the wire.
If you have a loose bracket, you may temporarily reconnect it with a small piece of orthodontic wax or place the wax over the braces to provide some cushioning. If the issue is a loose band, save it to have it re-cemented or replaced along with any missing spacers. In both instances, contact us to see about having the problem fixed in-office.
An abscess, or severe mouth infection, can be life-threatening and should be handled immediately. This is because the infection can damage tissue and surrounding teeth as well as spread to other parts of the body if it goes untreated. See us as soon as possible if you find a pimple-like swelling in your gums, which is typically painful. In the meantime, to help with the pain and to draw the pus to the surface of the wound, you can rinse your mouth out with ½ teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water, several times a day.
Tissue Injury or Facial Pain
Wounds inside of the mouth, like tears, puncture wounds, or lacerations to the lips, mouth, tongue, or cheeks are tissue injuries and are classified as a dental emergency. If any of these injuries happen, you should first and foremost wash the area with warm water. You may apply a moistened piece of gauze or a tea bag to any bleeding sites and hold them in place for between 15 to 20 minutes. If there is any bleeding from the tongue, carefully pull it forward and apply gentle pressure on the wound with some gauze. Additionally, you can apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes. This might help control bleeding and relieve pain.
Temperature Sensitivity or Pressure Pain
If you are experiencing pain caused by hot or warm foods and beverages, ice water might help relieve it. If you contact us and we encourage you to come in, sipping continuously on ice water and keeping some in your mouth until you stop by can help. Alternatively, if extreme cold is causing you pain or it hurts to breathe air into your mouth, avoid the agitating cold foods and drinks and breathe through your nose until you are able to see us. Pain in a tooth when biting down may be the result of an abscess, so be sure to call us and offer detailed descriptions of what you are experiencing so we can ascertain the level of emergency and get you in, if necessary.
As with any difficult situation, it helps to be knowledgeable and prepared in the event of a dental emergency and you should contact us if you have any concerns or questions!