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Dental Emergencies 

Any dental emergency like an injury to the teeth or gum tissue can potentially be serious and should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment. Accidents can and do happen. Call our office any time, day or night and DO NOT PANIC!

The following is a list of the most common dental emergencies and what to do:

1. Toothaches.

First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Gently floss to remove any lodged food or debris. If your mouth appears swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. Never place an aspirin against the gums near the aching tooth as it may burn the tissue. If you are able, take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) as directed on the bottle. If your tooth continues to hurt, please call our office immediately.

2. Knocked out tooth.

If your tooth has been knocked out, rinse the tooth off very gently to make sure it is clean but DO NOT scrub it or remove any of the attached tissue fragments. If at all possible, gently place the tooth back into the socket making sure that it is placed in the correct position. If you are unable to replace the tooth back into it's original position, place the tooth in a container of milk or water (with a pinch of salt). If milk or salt water is not available, then place the tooth inside your mouth between your cheek and gum. In all cases, contact us immediately, as the best chance of saving the tooth with no further treatment comes from replacing the tooth back into the socket within 1 hour.

3. Chipped or broken teeth.

If your tooth (or teeth) is broken, call us immediately and try to save all of the pieces. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek or lip near the broken or chipped tooth, to minimize swelling. If there is any bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area with pressure for about 10 minutes.

4. Lost Filling.

As a temporary measure, place a piece of wax or sugarless gum into the cavity (sugared gum will hurt). You can also use an over the counter dental cement. Most often, the tooth will be desensitized from the old filling and therefore will not hurt. Cold sensitivity however, is not unsual and is not serious. Just avoid placing extreme temperature in the area. Sharp or rough areas are also not uncommon and will be smoothed down at your appointment. Please call our office as soon as possible.

5. Lost crown.

Displaced crowns are not uncommon. It is often quite startling but not serious. If possible, try to place the crown back into place as quickly as possible. If possible, place a small amount of toothpaste, denture adhesive or temporary dental cement into the crown before replacing it in your mouth. Gently bite your teeth together to insure that it is seated properly. DO NOT USE SUPER GLUE! If you cannot replace the crown do not be concerned. If you cannot replace the crown and it is sensitive, and you cannot be seen immediately, use a cotton swab to apply a small amount of oil of clove (it is safe!). Oil of clove can generally be obtained in a grocery store. Please call us as soon as possible to re-cement or replace the crown as teeth will begin to shift almost immediately.

6. Extruded (partially dislodged) tooth.

Contact our office immediately. If you are able, gently push the tooth back into place. To relieve the pain, take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) as directed. Place a cold compress on the outside of your mouth near the affected area.

7. Abcess.

An "abcess" is a generic term for infections that occur around the root of a tooth (endodontic involvement) or in the space between the teeth and gums (periodontal involvement), or both. An abcess is a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth. Left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body therefore, contact our office immediately. The tissue surrounding the tooth may appear swollen or inflamed and you may even notice a pimple like swelling on the gum tissue. To ease the pain on a temporary basis, take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) as needed. Further, to help ease the pain and to draw the pus toward the surface, rinse your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times per day.

8. Something Caught Between Your Teeth.

Gently insert a piece of dental floss. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue. If you are unable to to remove the object, please contact our office. Never use a sharp object to try and remove something that is stuck between your teeth.

9. Possible Broken Jaw.

If you think that you have broken your jaw, apply a cold compress to the area to minimize any swelling. Contact our office immediately or go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital immediately.

10. Bitten Tongue or Lip.

If you have bitten your tongue or lip, gently wipe down the area clean with a cloth. Apply a cold compress to the area to minimize any swelling. If the bleeding will not stop, you should go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.

11. Soft Tissue Injuries.

Soft tissue injuries that result in bleeding to the gums, tongue, cheeks, or lips should be treated as follows: Rinse your mouth with a mild salt water solution; Use a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes; Hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes. If the bleeding does not stop, please contact our office immediately or go to a hospital emergency room and continue applying pressure until you can be seen.

12. Broken Orthodontic Wires.

If a wire breaks or is sticking out of a band or bracket and is poking, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If the wire cannot be repositioned, cover the end with a small piece of orthodontic wax, gauze or cotton ball until you can be seen by your orthodontic office. Do not cut the wire as it can be swallowed or aspirated into the lungs.

13. Loose Orthodontic Brackets and Bands.

Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontic office as soon as possible and save the bracket or band.

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