Emergency Dental Care

Do You Need Emergency Dental Care?

broken front teeth Although dental or mouth pain is relatively common, fortunately most dental situations are not emergencies. Common mouth injuries can result from biting on food, sports-related injuries, a fall, or other accident. Depending on the severity of the injury, it's often possible to wait until regular office hours. In order to protect your family's teeth while avoiding unnecessary and costly emergency room visits, it's important to know how to assess if a dental accident or pain requires immediate professional attention, if it can wait until normal business hours, and what you can do while you are waiting.

If you suspect a severe concussion, broken jaw, or severe infection or any other non-dental related emergency, go directly to the emergency room.

If you have any doubt as to whether you need to be seen immediately, please call or text our office and one of our team members will be able to assist you and we have an emergency number to call after 9pm.

To help you determine for yourself if you can wait to be seen by your dentist during regular office hours, if you need to take a trip to the ER or if you need an emergency dental visit, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you in severe pain? On a scale of 1-10 - what is your level of pain? Are you unable to receive any relief from the pain by using over the counter analgesics (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin) By applying a warm compress? By applying a cold compress?

  • Are you experiencing severe bleeding that does not stop with the use of a wet tea bag or compress?

  • Do you have an infection? Do you notice swelling or knots on your gums or swelling around your face?

  • Have you experienced a severe mouth injury? Cracked or broken tooth with large portion missing? Knocked out tooth?
Any dental problem that requires immediate treatment to stop bleeding, alleviate severe pain, or save a viable tooth is considered an emergency. This includes severe infections that can prove to be life-threatening if left untreated.

If you have any of these symptoms, you may be experiencing a dental emergency. Call our office immediately and describe what has happened. If you are unable to reach our office by phone or text, please go directly to the emergency room.

Prevention | Precautions

Most people would like to avoid a trip to the dentist or doctor. To reduce the chance of accident, injury, or dental pain, consider the following:
  • Wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or other recreational activities
  • Do not use your teeth as a tool. Use a bottle opener, scissors, or other device to avoid cracking or chipping your teeth.
  • Avoid chewing or biting down anything that could chip or break your teeth:
    • Ice
    • Foods with potential pits or seeds
    • Hard candy
    • Popcorn kernels

Dental First Aid

Knocked out tooth:
If the tooth is knocked completely out of the socket, call our office immediately. Meanwhile, try to handle the tooth as little as possible. Attempt to put the tooth back in its socket by biting down on a wet tea bag or a moistened gauze. Be very careful NOT to swallow the tooth.

If you are unable to get the tooth to remain in the socket for your trip to the emergency room or dental office, gently rinse off any visible dirt and keep the tooth in a container of milk or your own saliva until you are seen by a professional. A tea bag or wet compress can be applied to help with any bleeding from the socket.

Uncontrolled bleeding of the mouth and/or gums is a serious issue. To slow or stop bleeding, we recommend the use of either sterile gauze or a tea bag. Biting down on a moistened tea bag will often stop bleeding when a sterile gauze is ineffective.

Most toothaches can wait for treatment and do not require emergency care. If you experience one or more of the following - you may need emergency care:
  • Severe, persistent pain
  • Swelling
  • Bumps on gums
  • High fever
Pain Relief
The following may be used to alleviate pain:
    Warm Salt Water
    Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Swish the mixture in your mouth and spit out - DO NOT SWALLOW!
    Floss or toothpick
    Food particles, popcorn kernels, and even floss stuck between teeth can cause discomfort. You can often remove these irritants on your own with floss or a toothpick.
    Ice pack / Cold Compress
    Like many types of muscular pain and injuries, an ice pack or ice wrapped in a cloth applied intermittantly to the area (15 minutes on / 15 minutes off) can relieve pain and swelling.
    Heating Pad / Warm Compress
    Some types of tooth pain intensify with cold. In those cases, instead of ice - try using a heating pad to decrease the pain.
    OTC Pain Medication
    Tooth pain can normally be controlled with the same over the counter pain reliever that you would normally use when you have a headache, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you choose aspirin, swallow the tablet. Placing it directly on the tooth or gum is a folk remedy that can cause damage to the inside of your mouth.
Re-Cement Crown
Having a crown come off of your tooth can be less frustrating when you are able to temporarily fix the situation yourself. You may be on vacation, can't get immediate time off from work, or can't be worked into the schedule immediately. We typically recommend that you attempt to temporarily recement the tooth yourself to avoid shifting of your teeth and to protect the remaining tooth structure from damage or sensitivity.

You can purchase one of several temporary crown products from your local pharmacy or you can simply mix a paste of flour and water for a quick fix. Whatever you do - DO NOT USE SUPERGLUE or any other permanent adhesive!

  • Inspect the inside of the crown and the remaining tooth structure (if possible). It is normal to see a small amount of old glue/cement inside the crown. The inside of the crown should resemble a cap that fits over the tooth structure (like a minature tooth). If there appears to be tooth structure inside the crown and not simply a coating of cement or if there does not appear to be any tooth structure remaining, it is likely that the crown will not stay on the tooth and you would risk losing or swallowing the crown. Do not try to replace the crown and call our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
  • Before recementing the crown, test to see if the crown fits back on the tooth. If it sits unevenly, old glue or cement may be on either the tooth structure or the inside of the crown.
  • Clean out the inside of the crown, removing any old glue/cement is stuck inside the crown in order to allow it to attach firmly.
  • Make sure the tooth is clean and dry. If possible, blow it dry. Moisture can prevent a strong adhesive bond.
  • If possible, for best results, recement the tooth at time when you will not be eating or talking. If you don't grind your teeth at night, just prior to bedtime can be a good time to recement the crown.

Call our office before attempting to recement your crown to make sure that it is appropriate. Read and follow any instructions for any temporary cement product. A higher risk of swallowing or aspirating (breathing in) a crown is associated with back and upper teeth since they are less likely to stay cemented properly. If you have any questions or concerns about re-cementing your crown, call our office to discuss other options.

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