Dental Emergencies

Dental Emergencies

Dental offices are not open 24 hours a day, so below are some tips that might help in a dental emergency.

Abscessed Tooth

An infected tooth can lead to a major toothache with throbbing. The infection can happen either at the root of the tooth or between the gums and the tooth. This infection is usually in the form of a pus-filled sac.

Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth:

  • A constant ache.
  • Throbbing, especially if it occurs with no clear cause and is unrelated to biting or chewing.
  • Pain when biting or chewing.
  • Redness and swelling of the gums.
  • Tender glands in the neck.
  • Swollen face.
  • A bad taste in your mouth.
  • Unpleasant drainage.
  • An open, draining sore on the side of the gum.

The treatment of an abscessed tooth depends on the location and severity of infection. Treatment options might include antibiotics to treat the infection, referral to an oral surgeon who could excise and drain the pus-filled sac, extraction of the tooth, or a root canal. Most importantly, don’t let an abscessed tooth continue. If you’re suffering and our office is closed, please proceed to urgent care.

Broken Tooth

  • Do gently clean dirt from the injured area with warm water.
  • Do place cold compresses on the face in the area of the injured tooth to decrease swelling.
  • Do see the dentist as soon as possible.

Bitten Tongue or Lip

  • Do apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth.
  • Do apply cold compresses if swelling is present.
  • Do go to the emergency room if the bleeding doesn’t stop.

Cracked Tooth

A tooth most commonly cracks as a result of clenching or grinding your teeth. A cracked tooth can lead to sudden, sharp pain while chewing. If you think you might have a cracked tooth, do your best to remember from what area the pain is coming. This will help our office find and diagnose the source of your pain. Depending on the size and location of the crack, Dr. Peters may restore the tooth with bonding, or a crown. However, if the pulp becomes damaged or diseased because of the crack, a root canal or even extraction might be necessary. To prevent your teeth from cracking in the first place, always wear a mouthguard when playing sports, avoid chewing ice, nuts, hard candy and other hard foods, avoid extreme temperatures and try not to clench or grind your teeth.

Decayed Tooth

  • Do rinse your mouth with warm water to clean out the decayed area.
  • Do use dental floss to remove any food that might be trapped between the teeth.
  • Do not place aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
  • Do see your dentist as soon as possible.

Grinding Teeth

If you find yourself waking up with a sore jaw or even a headache and your teeth seem to be getting more sensitive to heat and cold, you need to consider the possibility that you may be a nighttime tooth grinder. Bruxism, or tooth grinding, afflicts up to 50 percent of the population. If you have bruxism, you clench your teeth when you sleep and grind them together. Since you can bite up to six times harder while sleeping than you can when you’re awake, bruxism can cause a lot of damage if not corrected.

Some of the effects of bruxism are:

  • pain and damage to the gums and teeth
  • sore facial muscles, headaches and earaches
  • enamel can wear away, causing teeth to become more sensitive to heat and cold
  • pressure from grinding can fracture teeth and crack fillings
  • damage to the TMJ, which is the small joint that connects the lower jaw to the upper jaw allowing you to chew and talk

If you think you might be grinding your teeth, Dr. Peters might recommend being fitted with a custom mouthguard that you wear to bed. This appliance will take the brunt of the pressure that would otherwise be directed at your unprotected teeth.

Knocked-Out Tooth

  • Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments.
  • Do gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket or place it in a cup of milk.
  • Do see your dentist as soon as possible.

Objects Caught Between Teeth

  • Do try to remove the object with floss, being careful not to cut the gums.
  • Do not use a sharp or pointed instrument.
  • Do see the dentist if you can’t remove it.

Temporary Crown Comes Off

If you lose a temporary crown when our office is not open, please save the temporary and give the office a call. If it is after business hours and you are not in pain, you may use toothpaste or denture adhesive to replace the temporary. Please call us, leave a message, and we will see you on the next business day.

Other Emergencies

If you have an emergency that is not addressed here, or is obviously more severe than these examples, use good judgement.

Emergency care clinics and hospital emergency rooms are open 24 hrs every day. If you feel that your situation warrants a visit to an emergency room, don’t hesitate to go.