Dental Emergency!

Jamie J. Alexander on March 17, 2015

Are you prepared for a dental emergency? I am.

Keep my phone number in your contact list, because if you or an out-of-town guest has a dental emergency, you’ll want to reach me as quickly as possible. Here it is. Call 561-732-8877. At that number, you can always reach Sue or Janice during business hours, Monday through Friday. We reserve special time in our schedule each day in the case a patient needs us. If you suffer a dental emergency after business hours, over the weekend, or on a holiday, please call this number, and you will be instructed how to best reach me.

You are your own first responder.

No one wants a dental emergency and we take preventative measures to make sure our own patients have as few as possible, but they do occur and we are here to help.

If you suffer an accident and your tooth is knocked out, pick up the tooth by the top of the crown, not the roots. Is any part missing or fractured? I’ll want to know. A knocked out tooth is a true emergency because with rapid response, we can many times reinsert the tooth and it will reattach. As soon as you take the following steps to preserve the tooth, call me!

If the tooth is dirty, place it in warm water for no more than 10 seconds but do not rinse it under running tap water because you could kill the cells on the roots that will help reattach the tooth. Try to put the tooth back in the tooth socket. If successful, bite down on gauze or moist paper towel to hold it in place. If you are not successful, you need to keep it moist in one of the following environments:

  • You can hold it between your cheek and gum.
  • You can put it in some milk, your own saliva, or a warm, mild saltwater solution (1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1 quart of warm water).
  • Or, you can put it in an over-the-counter tooth preservation product if you have one immediately at hand. Some families keep these in their medicine cabinet for such an emergency. If your family is active in sports or boating, it’s not a bad idea. In Florida, we see patients who accidentally hit teeth on the hard surface of a boat or Jet Ski.

If you suffer an accident and your tooth becomes broken, the degree of the emergency is based on your level of pain. If the tooth is painful, you need to see me ASAP. We need to restore your tooth before it becomes infected or further damaged. You can take any over-the-counter pain reliever that is safe for you. If the tooth is simply chipped, and you are not in pain, call for an appointment. If there is a sharp edge, you’ll want to see me soon. In the meantime, you can protect your cheek or tongue with wax paraffin or sugarless chewing gum. Eat soft foods on the other side of your mouth until the tooth is repaired.

A broken dental appliance can be painful if it pokes the soft tissue of your mouth or creates stress on adjacent teeth. If a dental appliance, for example, a bridge, becomes broken, the level of your emergency is based on your level of discomfort. Call as soon as you can for an appointment, and I will see you that day. Otherwise, we will quickly fit you in during regular office hours. As in the case of a sharp or jagged tooth edge, you will want to protect your cheek and tongue with paraffin wax or sugarless chewing gum.

If you have a soft tissue injury, there may be bleeding and swelling. To stop bleeding, apply moistened gauze or a tea bag and apply pressure to where you are bleeding. You may need to hold this in place up to 20 minutes. To help relieve swelling, apply a cold compress or wrapped ice pack to the outside of the mouth of cheek. The recommended length of time is 5 to 10 minutes. If you have a lip laceration requiring stitches, you should go to your local emergency room right away. Call me with any concerns and questions.

If you find you have a loose tooth or dental appliance, call for an appointment. Try not to bite or chew food in that area until I see you.

If something becomes lodged between your teeth, you first reaction may be to reach for a toothpick. Many times, these handy tools can be used to unstick food debris. Oftentimes threading dental floss under the object and pulling up will remove it. I can’t tell you how many times patients have had dental floss become lodged between their teeth. If you feed a fresh string of dental floss under the lodged piece and pull up, almost every time, it will come out. If these tactics do not work, call me!

So, what should you have at home? Toothpicks, dental floss, and a dental floss threader!

If a crown falls off, put the crown back on top and make an appointment to see me as soon as possible. It will be loose so do not eat on that side of your mouth. We will fit you in right away.

DO NOT USE SUPERGLUE! This may prevent me from properly cementing your crown, and will likely necessitate the need for a new crown.

You can use a little denture adhesive to hold it in place, or temporary crown cement that is sold at drug stores, and located on dental aisle. If you are in pain, you can swab the area with a little clove oil. Clove oil is available at drug stores and often in the spice aisle of grocery stores.

If you lose a filling, make an appointment for urgent dental care to see me immediately. To prevent pain, you can put a bit of sugarless chewing gum in the cavity. The tooth may be weak without the filling. Do not eat on that side of your mouth until the tooth is restored.

If you have a toothache, consider the following:

  • Dental abscesses are infections that can cause severe pain in the roots of a tooth and inflammation in the gum tissue surrounding a tooth. Call me if you have severe tooth pain of any kind or observe a gum infection. A dental abscess can damage surrounding teeth and gum tissue, and spread infection to other parts of the body. Untreated severe abscesses have been known to result in grave systemic infections and death so do not ignore the symptoms. Always remember…the sooner a root or periodontal infection is treated, the less you risk the development of an abscess.
  • If your mouth becomes swollen, this may be caused by infection, but this can also occur at the site of an injury or tooth erupting. Call for an appointment. While waiting for treatment, you may find temporary relief from swishing warm salt water. You can try applying cold compresses to the outside of your cheek. Never put aspirin or another painkiller on your gums near the aching tooth. These substances can burn the soft tissue of your mouth.
  • If you have intermittent pain in a tooth when you eat or drink, particularly upon contact with cold or hot substances, this is probably not cause for emergency alarm, but do call for an appointment because the tooth root may be developing an infection or be damaged and in need of treatment. Demineralization of tooth enamel can lead to sensitivity. Together, we can develop a plan to either immediately correct or at least begin improving your situation.
  • There are non-dental causes of facial pain. Sinus infections and TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) joint and muscle pains can mimic tooth aches. Often physicians suggest having their teeth checked prior to their evaluation and treatment.

We care about your dental emergency.

Whether you have a knocked out tooth, sudden toothache, persistent discomfort, cracked a tooth, lost a filling, or find you have a loose tooth or broken dental restoration, we will conscientiously work to make your visit as painless and as stress-free as possible. We always reserve time in our schedule each day to help any patients in need of care.

We are now accepting new patients, and welcome all new patients no matter their dental history or existing dental condition. We are ready to give you first aid advice and the expert, gentle care you deserve.