What constitutes a dental emergency?
It could be a toothache, injury to the mouth, abscess, or even a chipped front tooth that is embarrassing. If you think it’s an emergency and requires urgent dental care, that’s how we’re going to handle it.
Most things we see here in Tucson as an emergency dentist are preventable with regular check-ups, brushing and flossing. We see patients with toothaches right before or during big events. It seems like it’s usually a wedding. We’ll sound a little like your mom here, but regular dental care generally prevents emergency dental care. One way or another we’ll get to see you, and we’re always happy to take care of you either way.
What should I do for a toothache?
NEVER WAIT! If you feel discomfort that is lasting more than a few days, please call us immediately. Many people wait too long to call the dentist and then have trouble finding a dentist that can see them immediately. If you are feeling discomfort that isn’t going away, NEVER WAIT to call us, it will only get worse.
What should I do with a chipped or broken tooth?
If the tooth is chipped or broken, you need to check for sensitivity to pressure or temperature. If you find that pain increases with pressure or temperature changes, you need to give us a call immediately so we can evaluate the severity of the chip or break. If you have no symptoms, you are lucky, you will definitely still want to call us so we can evaluate the tooth and offer repair options before the tooth becomes more damaged, or symptomatic.
What should I do for a knocked out tooth?
It is important to get to the dentist as quickly as possible after a tooth has been knocked out. It is also important to avoid damaging the tooth even more. Follow these suggestions to improve the chances of saving your tooth:
- Handle the tooth carefully. Try not to touch the root (the part of the tooth that was under the gum). It can be damaged easily.
- If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the upper part (the crown) and rinse it with milk. If you don’t have any milk, rinse it with water. Don’t wipe it off with a washcloth, shirt or other fabric. This could damage the tooth.
- Keep the tooth moist. Drop it into a glass of milk. If you can’t do this, place the tooth in your mouth, between the cheek and gum.
- Try slipping the tooth back into its socket. In many cases, it will slip right in. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Don’t try to force it into the socket. If it doesn’t go back into place easily and without pressure, then just keep it moist (in milk, saliva or water) and get to the dentist as soon as you can.
If the tooth is intact (not broken in pieces), it is always a good idea to try to save it.
What should I do for a partially dislodged tooth?
Call us to make an immediate appointment. Gently try pushing the tooth back into its proper location. If you don’t know where that is, don’t force it. If the tooth comes out, place it back in your mouth between the cheek and gums or in a cup of milk or saliva. Get to the dentist ASAP.
What should I do if something is lodged between my teeth?
Get a piece of floss and try to gently remove the object. Some discomfort is possible, but if done gently, floss works really well. Occasionally a toothpick is a good second option, but extreme caution should be used to avoid pushing the object deeper into the gum tissue. Follow up by swishing with salt water to help remove any smaller particles and also to help calm the gums. If you are unable to remove the object, call the office ASAP.
What should I do if I lose my filling?
NEVER WAIT! Call us so we can take care of you. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, food and bacteria will be able to access the interior portion of your tooth and cause extensive damage if left untreated. If you are not able to see the dentist immediately, there are temporary filling materials you can purchase at most pharmacies. Remember, this is a very temporary solution and should not be considered a “permanent fix”.
What should I do if my braces are broken?
Call Us. Be sure to find the broken pieces. Take extreme caution not to swallow whatever has broken off your braces. Please bring the broken piece with you to the office so we can reuse it in your mouth if possible.
What should I do with an abscess?
NEVER WAIT! An abscess is a chronic infection that is causing your immune system to work overtime. The infection from an abscess can spread throughout your body if it is not treated properly with antibiotics and dental treatment. An abscess is usually accompanied with extreme pressure pain and discomfort. Occasionally the abscess will “pop” providing temporary relief from the pressure pain, but this means that the infection is now draining into your mouth. An abscess can become very nasty, so please call the office ASAP so we can take care of you.
What should I do if I bite my tongue?
The mouth is based on precision muscle movements and perfect timing while chewing, so it is a wonder we don’t bit our tongue more often. When you do bite your tongue, quickly assess if there is bleeding or even a missing piece of the tongue. Generally, the tongue will heal on its own, but deep bite lesions can occasionally need stitches. If you feel a piece of loose tongue tissue after biting it, please call the office immediately so we can evaluate you. Smaller or less severe tongue biting can usually be treated at home with salt water rinses and being extremely cautious not to bit the tongue again. The tongue will usually heal in 10 to 14 days.
My teeth are really sensitive…what should I do?
Ask yourself these questions…Do all my teeth hurt or just one of them? Has it been sensitive for a long time or did it just start? If all your teeth are sensitive on a regular basis you probably have sensitive teeth due to gum recession or thinning enamel. This can be treated with a gum evaluation at our office followed by increased use of fluoride and/or sensitive toothpastes (Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive). If a single tooth is sensitive and just recently began, you will need to call our office so we can evaluate your tooth for any pathology that might be triggering the acute sensitivity.
Do I have a broken tooth? How can I tell?
A broken tooth generally will feel rough to the touch. Your mouth is extremely sensitive to change and you are usually able to tell that one of your teeth has changed. Pain is also a good indicator of a broken tooth, but not all broken teeth will hurt. If an area of your teeth is now catching more food than usual, that can also indicate a broken tooth. If you are uncertain, please call our office and we will be able to help locate any chipped or broken teeth in your mouth.
Do I have a cracked tooth? How can I tell?
A cracked tooth is one of the most difficult problems to diagnose. Most cracks in teeth are microscopic and cannot be detected, even with the use of x-rays. One very good indicator of a cracked tooth is pain. Obviously, if you are eating something hard and you feel a pain after biting down, or you bang your teeth together, you are likely to have a cracked or broken tooth. A cracked tooth generally will cause pain after you have bitten down and then relieve the biting pressure by opening. If you have more pain on a tooth as you open your mouth as opposed to biting down, that usually indicates a cracked tooth.
I think my Jaw might be broken. What should I do?
Try to stabilize the jaw as much as possible and go straight to the emergency room. Broken jaws are treated by oral surgeons and will require multiple tests to verify the location and severity of the break. Your general dentist will be limited on what can be done and will more than likely refer you to the Oral Surgeon.
What if I can’t get to a dentist for a couple of days…what should I do?
Go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room. They will be able to help you immediately with some pain relief. Oftentimes, the Urgent Care or Emergency Room staff will help get you some temporary relief and then send you to your dentist when you are able to do so.