If You Have a Dental Emergency, Don’t Panic
The emergency dental team at Wilshire Smile Studio offers services and advice in the event of an injury to your mouth. Be sure to know these tips before there is a need for urgent care, in order to avoid unnecessary panic or doing the wrong thing in response.
IN CASE A TOOTH IS KNOCKED OR FALLS OUT
Hold the tooth by the top, not the roots, wash it and the affected area in lukewarm water, and put it back in the socket and keep it there, if possible. If you are unable to do this, hold the tooth between your cheek and gums until treated, or put it in milk or in a tooth preservation product in your first aid kit (which has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance). Then call Wilshire Smile Studio if it is during office hours (Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m.) to set up an emergency appointment. Outside of those hours, go to an urgent care or emergency room for immediate care and call our office when it reopens to set up an exam. In the event a child loses a baby tooth, just wash out his or her mouth with warm saltwater and schedule a non-emergency appointment.
IF A TOOTH IS CRACKED OR CHIPPED
A fractured tooth may cause pain, but doesn’t generally require emergency treatment and an over-the-counter pain medication should be adequate. Put a cold compress on that area of the face to keep down swelling. If you can find any pieces that have broken off, bring them to the exam to help determine the best repair program.
IF THERE IS CONTINUED BLEEDING AFTER A TOOTH EXTRACTION
If you had a decayed tooth removed, the instructions for home care should stop bleeding, reduce swelling, and minimize pain. This includes biting firmly on gauze pads, applying an ice bag, not rinsing or spitting forcefully and relaxing for 24 hours, as well as limiting activating for another day or two. If, however, bleeding continues, you have fever or chills, nausea, excessive discharge from the affected area, a cough, or chest pain, call for an emergency appointment during office hours or have an ER doctor examine you before then.
IF YOU HAVE A TOOTHACHE OR PAINFUL GUMS
Rinse the mouth with warm water and use floss to clean out any particles of food that might be stuck between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on a tooth or area of the gums where you think the pain is, but do take aspirin or ibuprofen while waiting for your appointment. If that is not sufficient, call the office to have one of our doctors order a prescription medication and perhaps an antibiotic, and set up an appointment (outside of normal practice hours, you can call our doctors’ exchange and leave a message, including your phone number and the number of the pharmacy where you will pick up the prescription).
IF A TOOTH IS PUSHED OUT OF ALIGNMENT
If an accident causes a tooth to be pushed even slightly out of its normal position, but isn’t out of the socket, do not try to realign it yourself. Take over-the-counter pain medication and call for an emergency appointment.
IF A DENTAL CROWN OR BRIDGE POPS OUT
This is not a serious emergency, so just put a little petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) or a denture adhesive gel inside the crown and put it back over the tooth, then gently bite down on it. Likewise, you can temporarily reattach a bridge. But be careful how you chew until you come in for an examination.
IF A FILLING FALLS OUT
Keep the area clean with saltwater and schedule a non-emergency appointment. Only save a filling if it is gold or ceramic.
PREVENTING DENTAL EMERGENCIES
- Floss twice daily and brush for two minutes each time. Come in twice a year to have one of our dentists give you a thorough exam. Cavities and gum disease in their initial stages may not cause any pain and being treated early will prevent them from developing into painful and costly emergencies.
- Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy, which can crack teeth.
- Do not use your teeth to cut anything.
- Wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or activities that could result in injury to the mouth, such as gymnastics and skateboarding (your dentist can make a customized one).
Call Wilshire Smile Studio for a free consultation on your dental health: 323-DENTIST (336-8478).