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Dental emergencies can arise from a wide range of accidental and systemic causes. Depending on your unique situation and type of emergency, Santa Rosa dentists can use a variety of treatments and techniques to quickly address your pain and find a solution to your problem.

All dental emergencies are serious. If you have suffered injuries to your teeth or gums, you should seek immediate help. Delaying treatment can lead to dangerous infections, nerve and blood vessel damage and more. The sooner you contact office, the better chances are of saving your tooth and preventing escalating costs. Left untreated, many dental emergencies can worsen and subsequently require more expensive and complex treatments.

Types Of Dental Emergencies And What You Can Do

In the event of any dental emergency, contact office right away. The sooner you can get emergency dental care, the smoother your recovery will be. The most important thing you can do during a dental emergency is getting to our office as soon as possible. Quick intervention may be able to save your tooth and preserve your oral health. Your dentist should be the first person you call if you have a dental emergency. Most dentists set aside time for emergency procedures. Be sure to keep your dentist’s after hours contact information readily available at all times.

Whether at home or traveling, the following tips can help you manage a dental emergency until you can get to the dentist. It is important to remember that with some dental emergencies, seeing a dentist within 30 minutes or less can mean the difference between saving or losing your tooth.

Here is a list of some common dental emergencies and how to handle them. These recommendations will alleviate some of the pain or damage, and help ensure your treatment goes as smoothly as possible.

Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency that requires urgent attention. If the appropriate emergency steps are followed immediately after the tooth has been knocked out, the chances are very good that the tooth can be reinserted and preserved by a dentist.

  • Pick up the tooth by the top (crown) of the tooth. Do not touch the root(s) of the tooth.
  • Rinse the tooth off very gently to ensure that it’s clean. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any tissue attached to it. Be sure to place a towel or washcloth in the sink so that the tooth does not go down the drain.
  • If you can, gently place the tooth back into the socket. Hold it gently in place while trying to bite down.
  • If you can’t place the tooth back in the socket, put the tooth in a small container or in a cup of milk. Note that the latter is preferable.
  • Call your dentist immediately, since getting to the dentist quickly with your tooth – in addition to following the steps above – is critical for saving the knocked-out tooth. The longer you wait to re-implant the tooth in its socket, the less chance you have of the tooth “taking” and remaining viable.

Loose Tooth, Tooth Out of Alignment

If you have a tooth that is loose or out of alignment, you should call your dentist for an emergency appointment right away. In the meantime, you can try to put the tooth back in its original position using your finger with very light pressure. Do not try and force it. You can bite down to keep the tooth from moving. Your dentist may want to splint the tooth to the adjacent teeth (the teeth on each side) to keep it stabilized.

Chipped, Cracked or Fractured Teeth

If a tooth is chipped and doesn’t hurt, this usually does not constitute a dental emergency and you can wait a few days to see a dentist. However, it is important to be careful while chewing so as not to chip it more. Your dentist may simply be able to smooth the chip out, or add some composite filling material to repair the tooth.

A cracked or fractured tooth is a serious issue constituting a dental emergency. Fractured or cracked teeth usually suggest that damage has occurred to the inside of the tooth as well as to the outside. Severe fractures are so extreme that the tooth cannot be saved. If you suffer a fractured tooth, call your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment and follow these steps:

  • Clean your mouth out by gently rinsing thoroughly with warm water.
  • If the fracture is caused by facial trauma, apply a cold compress to the area to minimize any swelling.
  • Take acetaminophen (not aspirin) according to the packaging directions to alleviate pain.
  • Never apply a painkiller to the gum because it can burn the gum tissue. This includes Orajel, which often is marketed for these types of procedures.

An X-ray will be needed in order for your dentist to properly diagnose the condition of your tooth. If the soft tissue inside of the tooth (the tooth pulp) is damaged, your tooth may need a root canal. If the pulp is not damaged, the tooth might only need a crown.

Some dentists make some of their permanent crowns in-office and place them in the same day; other dentists use an outside laboratory to make the crown. In this case you will have to wear a temporary crown while the laboratory makes a permanent crown. If the tooth cannot be saved, your dentist will inform you of the various alternatives for replacing missing teeth, such as implant-supported restorations and bridges.

Tissue Injury and Facial Pain

Any type of injury inside the mouth, such as puncture wounds, lacerations and tears to the lips, cheeks, mouth and tongue, are considered tissue injuries and a dental emergency. If you experience any type of tissue injury, it is important to clean the area immediately with warm water. If the bleeding is coming from the tongue, gently pull the tongue forward and place pressure on the wound using gauze. You should get to an oral surgeon or nearby hospital emergency room as quickly as possible.

To alleviate any type of facial pain associated with tissue injury, you can take acetaminophen as directed on the packaging label. Never take aspirin or ibuprofen for a dental emergency because they are anticoagulants, which can cause excessive bleeding.

Dental Abscesses

An abscess is typically the result of a bacterial infection near the root of a tooth. This is a serious condition that can damage your surrounding teeth or soft tissues when left untreated. If you are diagnosed with an abscess, it must be drained as soon as possible to remove the infection. In many cases, the infection is the result of decay within a tooth that spreads outside of the root. Once we remove the abscess, you may need a root canal to fully restore your oral health.
Excessive Bleeding

Excessive bleeding is often the result of soft-tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries include those to the tongue, cheeks, lips, and gums. To control the bleeding, you can rinse your mouth with a salt-water solution and place a moist gauze pad to the bleeding area. You can control the pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Advil or Ibuprofen. If the bleeding does not stop, be sure to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.

Broken Fillings

A broken filling is a minor and fairly common emergency. If you notice a broken or dislodged filling, be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. A broken filling will put your tooth at risk of developing further decay. During your appointment, dentists will replace the filling to improve the structure and seal off the area from harmful bacteria.

Problems with Temporary Restorations

Having a temporary crown come off is not a dental emergency. However, it is important to put it back in place so that the tooth stays in its original position until you can see your dentist.

A temporary crown can easily be put back onto your tooth by placing Vaseline, toothpaste, Chapstick or even a very small amount of denture adhesive into the temporary and placing it onto your tooth. Try putting your crown in first and note how it fits into place. Once you are comfortable with the fit, apply adhesive into the temporary and place it properly on your tooth. Bite down firmly onto a dry washcloth, applying even pressure to the temporary. After a few minutes, clean off any excess adhesive you can see. You should see your dentist within the next few days to have it properly re-cemented.

An object stuck between teeth

 Be careful trying to remove the object and stop trying if removal causes intense stress or pain to the surrounding teeth. Do not use any other object to try to remove whatever is stuck between your teeth.

Is it a Dental Emergency?

Smoothing a chipped tooth, re-cementing a crown that is not causing pain and composite bonding to repair a tooth are not dental emergencies. Typically, such problems can be dealt with during your dentist’s regular office hours.

If you are not sure whether or not you are having a true dental emergency, answer the following questions:

  • Are you bleeding from the mouth?
  • Are you in severe pain?
  • Do you have any loose teeth?
  • Have you been hit in the face or mouth?
  • Do you have any swelling in the mouth or facial area?
  • Do you have any bulges, swelling or knots on your gums?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be having a dental emergency and should call your dentist immediately. It’s important to describe to your dentist exactly what has happened and what you are feeling.

If you experience extreme pain caused by hot or warm foods or beverages, try drinking ice water. It might relieve the pain. Sip on ice water and hold some in your mouth until you see the dentist.

If you are having sensitivity to cold or if it causes pain to breathe in air, avoid cold foods and beverages. Breathe through your nose and call your dentist’s office.

If you experience pain in a tooth when biting down, it might indicate an abscess. This is an emergency and you should call your dentist’s office.

Being Prepared for a Dental Emergency

Because a dental emergency can happen at any time and place, the best thing to do is be prepared and don’t panic. Pack and keep with you a small dental first aid kit containing the following:

  • Small container with a lid
  • Name and phone number of your dentist
  • Acetaminophen (not aspirin or ibuprofen because they can act as a blood thinner and cause excessive bleeding during a dental emergency).
  • Gauze
  • Handkerchief

Pain relief at Emergency Dentistry

dentists provide a comfort menu to soothe you at every single visit. During dental emergencies, these comforts can provide relief before your exam even begins. For intense emergency dental care, dentists can also provide sedation options that can help you feel completely relaxed while they alleviate your pain as well as your stress.

How to Avoid a Dental Emergency?

Many dental emergencies can be easily avoided by having routine check ups with your dentist to ensure that your mouth and teeth are healthy, strong and free from decay. There are some simple ways that you can avoid having common dental issues. If you participate in sport or other activities, wear a mouthguard that will protect your teeth, gums and jaw. Avoid chewing hard substances such as ice and popcorn kernels, which can easily crack your teeth. never use your teeth to open or cut anything.

If you are planning to travel out of the country or leaving for an extended vacation, during which you may not have ready access to dental care, it is important to see your dentist for a routine check up before you leave. Your dentist can make sure that you don’t have any loose crowns or teeth, decay close to the nerve of a tooth that could cause you pain or develop into an abscess or other problems that could be easily fixed before becoming a dental emergency later.