Emergency Dental Services
Injuries to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment at a later date.
Here's a quick summary of what to do for some common dental problems.
Toothache. First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged or impacted food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold handtowel to the outside of your mouth or cheek. If you are not allergic you may take an over the counter pain reliever such as aspirin or Tylenol but never put it against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Knocked-out tooth. Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown or top (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth – try not to touch the root), and gently rinse off the root of the tooth root with water. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in the socket. To do this make sure it is facing the right way and very gently place it in the socket. Do not force the tooth to fit. If you succeed do not bite down on the tooth. If it's not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available) or a product such as Save-a-Tooth®. Your tooth will begin to die within about 15 minutes. You improve your chances by taking some of these steps but in all cases, see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
Chipped or broken teeth. Save any pieces. Rinse your mouth using warm water and rinse any broken pieces. If there's bleeding, apply a piece of clean gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold handtowel to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Partially dislodged tooth. See your dentist right away. Until you reach your dentist's office, to relieve pain, apply a cold handtowel to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed.
Objects caught between teeth. First, try using dental floss to very gently and carefully remove the object. If you can't get the object out, take no further action and see your dentist.
Lost filling. As a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Lost crown. If the crown falls off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can't get to the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil is inexpensive and can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue or any non dental cement or adheve!
Broken braces wires. If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue, or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can't reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist's office. Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs.
Loose brackets and bands. Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontist as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call your orthodontist for an appointment to have it recemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced).
Abscess. Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated. Abscesses can appear as a painful pimple-like swelling on the gum.
Because of the serious oral and general health problems that can result from an abscess you should see your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.
Other injuries. Injuries to the tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips, can result in bleeding. To control the bleeding, here's what to do:
- Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution. (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water)
- Use a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes.
- To both control bleeding and relieve pain, hold a cold handtowel to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes. See your dentist right away.
- If the bleeding does not stop go to an hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen and treated
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