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Dental Emergencies


Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth. Whether you're headed for a summer vacation or just enjoying outdoor sports, it's smart to be prepared for any kind of dental emergency.

Time is really of the essence in saving teeth. If your tooth or your child's tooth has been fractured, or if the tooth has been knocked out, you need to get to the dentist's office as soon as possible.

We offer the following tips on how to handle some common dental emergencies:

Knocked-Out Tooth: It is important to retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown, and rinse off the root of the tooth if it is dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, put the tooth back in it's socket. If that is not possible, put it in a container with milk or water and then get to your dentist as soon as possible.

Broken Tooth: Rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. Use cold compresses on the area to keep the swelling down, and get to your dentist's office quickly.

Bitten Tongue or Lip: Clean the area gently with a cloth and then apply cold compresses to reduce the swelling. If the bleeding does not stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

Objects Caught Between the Teeth: Try to gently remove the object with dental floss and avoid damaging the gums. Do not use a sharp instrument. The best item to use is a plastic toothpick that has an angulated tip. If not successful in removing the object, visit your dentist.

Toothache: Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean out the area. Make sure there is no food or any other object lodged around the tooth. Use dental floss to clean the area thoroughly.
Never put aspirin or any other painkiller on the gums or around the painful tooth because it can burn the gums, thus causing more harm than good.

What Should You Do ?

Your tooth hurts. It throbs. It is sensitive to hot or cold. You can't lie down because it hurts. You can't chew because it hurts. What should you do? The obvious answer is to visit your dentist.

The first rule for dentists is that patients in pain should be seen immediately and need to be handled with care. About 90% of patients arrive at the dental clinic in pain. Regretfully, root canal treatment is occasionally the butt of many jokes, which contributes to greater patient apprehension, but the patients are not laughing when they come in. They are usually suffering anything from a little discomfort to acute pain, but they leave the clinic feeling significantly better.

What questions will you be asked if you have a toothache and you visit your dentist?

  • How long has it hurt ?
  • What makes it hurt ?
  • How much does it hurt ?
  • Have you been taking anything for the pain ?

The dentist or the assistant will ask you those questions to determine what type of emergency treatment will be required.

When you arrive at the dentist's office, he or she will do an oral examination to see which tooth is bothering you and then diagnose the source of the pain. Your dentist may also want to take x-rays to help in the diagnosis. Treatment can then begin to alleviate the pain and address the problem. Some of the common reasons for a toothache include decay, periodontal (gum) disease, or physical trauma such as being hit on the mouth with a baseball or hockey stick.

The most common complaints associated with a toothache include that the tooth is sensitive to hot or cold liquids or foods or to sweets; there is often a throbbing pain; and sometimes there is what is called as referred pain.
Referred pain means you might have a pain in your ear or in the lower jaw, but it is really caused by a tooth. Our job is to find the real source of the pain.
The treatment can be virtually pain-free, and the patient is going to feel so much better by getting the toothache taken care of by a professional instead of trying home remedies.

Our focus now is really on preserving the tooth. It used to be that if you had a toothache, you would have that tooth extracted. Now, in most cases, the pain can be resolved without removing the tooth. Dentistry is making great progress in helping people keep their teeth for a lifetime.


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