We continue to get the question, is it a dental emergency when…? So we thought we would elaborate on a few common occurrences patients come across, and whether or not you should call your dentist immediately. You may feel sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages, or you may have a sore in your mouth, or you may chip a tooth. In any situation, we want you to be prepared. No need to panic, here are a few tips to help you determine if you need to call our emergency line after business hours.
Typically not a dental emergency, but you should contact your dentist for a check-up if you experience one of the following:
- Toothache – Do you feel a slight discomfort or pain when you’re eating? A toothache can be as simple as eating something too hard, or it could be because you have something caught in between your teeth. If this happens, simply rinse your mouth with warm water and floss your teeth. Rinse again and place a cold compress on the achy area. If the pain doesn’t go away you should contact us for a check-up.
- Lost filling or crown – Say you dislodged or lost a filling or a crown, not to worry! Remove the filling or crown so you don’t accidentally swallow it. Because there is now an open area in your mouth, you may feel sensitivity to hot and cold foods. Try to place wax or sugar free gum over the exposed area and contact your dentist to get the filling or crown replaced.
- Broken braces bracket or wires – Have you ever broken a bracket or wire? It’s usually more uncomfortable than painful. You can use a pencil eraser to push the wire back in place or place wax over the broken bracket. This will work temporarily until you get in to see the dentist.
- Bitten tongue – Ouch, this never feels good! If you bite your tongue or lip, rinse gently and apply a cold compress. You may feel sensitivity but don’t worry, your tongue has the ability to heal faster than any other part of your body!
- Gum damage – Sore, swollen or even bleeding gums could be caused by brushing too hard or not flossing regularly. Initially we think of this as a non-dental emergency. Try using a softer toothbrush and make sure you’re using slow, gentle circular motions to massage the teeth and gums. Also, make sure you’re being gentle when flossing. If gums continue to bleed or feel sore, it’s time to call the dentist.
While these may not be dental emergencies, you may still feel uncomfortable. “If you do not have medical issues preventing you from taking medication, you may consider taking something for the pain. Make sure you stick with Ibuprofen rather than aspirin, as aspirin can burn the gums and tissue,” says Dr. Espinosa.
Usually the following are considered a dental emergency. Call our emergency line for an appointment if it happens outside regular business hours, (619) 482-3264:
- Chipped or broken tooth – Chipping, cracking or braking a tooth is more startling than anything else. If you fracture a tooth, simply rinse out your mouth with warm water and use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Use a piece of wax or sugarless gum to place over any sharp edges. Refrain from eating if possible, as to not bite down on the tooth. Call so we can assess the damage and schedule an appointment to get your tooth fracture restored.
- Tooth knocked out – Now this is never fun. If you knock out a tooth make sure you handle the tooth by the exposed area. Gently rinse the tooth in water and store in your mouth between your cheek and gum or place the tooth in a gauze and immerse in milk to keep it moist. Call immediately for an emergency appointment.
- Abscessed tooth – If you are experiencing a fever, foul smelling breath, swollen glands, red gums, or discomfort chewing you may have an abscessed tooth. Rinse your mouth with warm water, place a cold compress on the sore area and call your dentist for an appointment.
Most of these occurrences can be avoided. Make a habit of brushing and flossing regularly to maintain your oral health care. When you’re playing sports, wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth. And avoid eating hard food or candy or using your mouth to open objects. If you ever have any questions, please call our office.