In general, any dental problem that needs immediate treatment to stop bleeding, alleviate severe pain, or save a tooth is considered an emergency. These things can happen as a result of accidents, fights, a cavity that finally reached the nerve and more. This consideration also applies to severe infections that can be life-threatening.
Do I need emergency dentistry?
Emergency dentistry can save your natural teeth, stop an infection from spreading to the rest of your body and more. For example, if your tooth got knocked out in an accident, there’s a chance it can still be put back in, but only in a short period of time. With your natural tooth back in, you can avoid expensive implants and painful procedures. Similarly, you can get more natural, cheaper treatments for other dental emergencies if you act fast.
You should get emergency dental care, if you experience the following:
- Pain that prevents you from eating or sleeping.
- Knocked-out teeth.
- Broken or loose braces.
- Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth.
- Lost filling or crown.
- Abscess or “pimple” on the gumline.
What to do if you’re experiencing a dental emergency?
Dental emergencies can be scary, but panicking won’t help. If you have an emergency - please remain calm, perform the first aid steps from below, and see a dentist as soon as possible.
Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area. You can take a pain reliever like acetaminophen (ex. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (ex. Advil). Try NOT to take Aspirin, since it’s an anticoagulant, and in case you need surgery it will thin out your blood and worsen the bleeding. When taking medication – follow your doctor’s advice, and the instructions on the medication package. Make a note of what medication, how much, and the time it was taken at.
If a whole natural tooth was knocked out, and it is reasonably clean – first make sure you handle it by the crown, not the root, and immediately try to put it back into the socket (This will prevent the reattachment cells from dying). If the tooth is not clean – you can rinse it, but do not scrub it. If you can’t put the tooth back in – place it in a cup of warm milk. A knocked-out tooth is more likely to be saved if treated within the hour. Call us immediately to increase the chances of saving your tooth.
If a part of your tooth broke off, find and save all the pieces of the tooth. Rinse your mouth with warm water to wash away smaller pieces. If you are bleeding, apply a piece of sterile gauze on the area until the bleeding stops. You can use a cold compress or ice pack to relieve some of the pain and swelling. To restore the tooth and prevent further damage – call us immediately.
If you have an abscess – rinse your mouth with a mild saltwater solution several times a day (half a teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water). This should help relieve the pain and draw the pus toward the surface. An abscess is an infection at the root of a tooth, or between the teeth and gums. It can damage tissue and the surrounding teeth, and it can also spread to other parts of your body if it’s left untreated. To prevent further abscess damage – call us to have it treated.
As a temporary solution, you can apply orthodontic wax on the hole left by the fallen-out filling. Orthodontic wax is soft and can be molded to cover and protect the hole until you can see a dentist. You can find it in most drug stores. This is just a temporary solution and you should see a dentist as soon as possible to permanently fix the filling.
If you’ve experienced some trauma to your jaw, follow these steps: Do not eat solid food, place an ice pack on your face, then call us to determine your next step. However, if you think your jaw may be broken – you should see an emergency dentist immediately.
Contact us today
to schedule an initial consultation & exam.
Your consultation will include an examination of everything from your teeth, gums and soft tissues to the shape and condition of your bite. Generally, we want to see how your whole mouth looks and functions. Before we plan your treatment we want to know everything about the health and aesthetic of your smile, and, most importantly, what you want to achieve so we can help you get there.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are dental first aid tips found above however, the best first step is always to give us a call! We will give you guidance over the phone to help alleviate your pain, save your tooth and get you here as quickly as possible.
Always follow your doctors’ advice and read the directions on the bottle before taking any pain medication. If it is safe for you, you may take a pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil to take the edge off. This is not a permanent or perfect solution. Dental pain is often nerve related and the only substantial relief will come from treatment a doctor can provide. If you do take something, write down what you took, how much you took, and when you took it and let us know when you come in.
Yes. If you need emergency dental care and go to the Emergency Room (ER), the ER will treat you and then bill your health insurance. The ER is not likely to be able to treat a dental problem unless it is a health emergency. They may also use temporary measures to relieve pain until you are able to see a dentist.
If left untreated, a broken tooth can collect bacteria, risking infection or abscess. A broken tooth also risks nerve damage and may lead to needing a root canal.
If the abscess ruptures, the pain may decrease significantly but you still need dental treatment. If the abscess doesn’t drain, the infection may spread to your jaw and to other areas of your head and neck. You might even develop sepsis, a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout your body.