SAVING YOUR SMILE
A dental emergency is always an unpleasant and stressful experience, and when you’re experiencing one, you might be unsure what to do. The most important thing to remember, however, is that you need to act quickly or else you might lose the chance of saving your tooth. At D Smiles Family Dentistry, we’re ready to schedule same-day appointments for patients who need urgent attention. Contact our office right away to get in touch with a team member and follow their instructions for managing the pain until you can get to our office.
HOW TO HANDLE COMMON DENTAL EMERGENCIES
Whether it’s a toothache or some kind of physical trauma, you’ll need to be seen by Dr. Kim-Ngan Do as soon as possible. If you’re unable to come to our office immediately, there’s some basic first aid you can perform for temporary relief while you’re waiting.
Sometimes a toothache is caused by nothing more than a particle of food stuck between your teeth that can be removed by dental floss. In other cases, though, it’s the sign of an infection. You can usually control any discomfort with ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain medications. If there’s swelling, place a cold compress over the affected area. Treatment for a toothache can range from a filling to a root canal.
Rinse your mouth with warm water and recover as many large pieces of the tooth as you can. A broken tooth might have a rough or sharp edge that can scratch your lips or gums; cover it with a piece of dental wax or some sugarless gum. A broken or chipped tooth might need to be extracted if it’s been damaged beyond the point of repair.
Saving a knocked-out tooth is possible, but only if the procedure is done quickly (usually within an hour or so). Find the tooth, pick it up by the chewing end (not the root), rinse it, then call us immediately. You can try to put a dislodged tooth back in its socket; if you can’t, keep it moist by storing it in your cheek or a container of milk.
A filling or crown might be damaged due to trauma, but they might also fall out due to simple wear and tear. If this happens, rinse it off and try to put it back. Sometimes the tooth underneath will be sensitive, but over-the-counter medication can help with this.
PREVENTING DENTAL EMERGENCIES
- Many dental emergencies are brought about by small problems that went unaddressed for a long time. You can help protect your smile by practicing excellent oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once.
- Avoid biting down on ice, pens, fingernails, popcorn kernels and other hard objects.
- Never use your teeth to open a package.
- Always wear a mouthguard while playing sports; you can get a guard to protect your teeth from nighttime grinding and clenching as well.
DENTAL EMERGENCY FAQS
You probably still have some questions about dental emergencies, even after reading all of the information above. That’s why we have assembled some of the questions we get asked the most often about dental emergencies and answered them down below. If you have a question that you don’t see answered here, feel free to contact us by clicking here and ask away.
HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT TO RECEIVE EMERGENCY TREATMENT?
When you have a dental emergency, you should ideally seek treatment right away, even if you’re not sure whether your situation qualifies as an emergency. It’s much better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your dental health. If you have a damaged or dislodged tooth, it’s critically important that you see us as soon as humanly possible so that we can get to work on repairing your tooth.
WHEN WILL I NEED A ROOT CANAL?
A root canal is actually one of the most common treatments for a toothache. Although root canals have a reputation of being painful, they’re actually quite effective at relieving your pain. This is because during the procedure, we actually remove the nerve from the tooth so that you will no longer feel your toothache.
WHEN SHOULD I GO TO THE E.R. VS THE DENTIST?
If your dental emergency is also life-threatening, such as an infection that causes swelling that impairs your ability to breathe, visit the emergency room of your local hospital instead of us. Also, see them if you think your jaw may be broken. Signs of a broken jaw include serious pain, inability to open or close your mouth all the way, and a numb chin or lower lip. For all other emergencies related to the mouth, come see us instead of visiting a hospital. Although the doctors there are medical experts, they’re not trained to handle specific oral situations the way that dentists are.
WHAT IF MY CHILD’S BABY TOOTH IS KNOCKED OUT?
Call us right away and we should be able to get you and your child in for an appointment as soon as possible. Unlike with a dislodged adult tooth, do NOT try to place the baby tooth back in the socket, as that could damage the adult tooth underneath the gumline. Depending on how close the tooth was to falling out naturally, we might place a space maintainer in the area to prevent the surrounding teeth from drifting and filling in the gap in your child’s smile.
WHAT IF I BITE MY TONGUE OR LIP?
For this situation, follow a similar protocol for a broken tooth. Apply gauze or cloth to the area for ten minutes or until the bleeding stops. Cut down on potential swelling by applying a cold compress to your tongue or lip for ten minutes on, ten minutes off. Then, take a store-bought pain reliever as directed on the bottle. Rinsing with a saltwater solution can also help with pain. It’s a good idea to avoid spicy, hot, or acidic foods and beverages until your injury is healed, as they can delay healing by irritating the site.
Every dental emergency is unique, and the type of treatment required will vary. At D Smiles Family Dentistry, our first priority is relieving your pain before we take care of any physical damage that’s been done. We accept both in-network and out-of-network insurance plans; low and no interest payment plans are also available through CareCredit.