Emergency Dental Services
Life is full of surprises, including unwanted ones like dental emergencies. Knowing what to do for common injuries can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth. We’ve listed the best ways to handle the most common dental problems. Remember, it’s important to call our La Jolla office as soon as possible to minimize the risk of permanent damage. We’re usually able to see emergency patients in our regular daily schedule. If an accident occurs when our office is not open, you should visit your local emergency room.
How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies
Whether you’re young or old, a broken tooth or other dental emergency can be physically and emotionally traumatic. To minimize your pain and suffering, we offer the following tips to help you deal with these situations.
Chipped, broken, or cracked tooth: Save any pieces of your tooth. Rinse your mouth with warm water. Also rinse any broken pieces. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your face to reduce pain and swelling. At your appointment, we may recommend a porcelain veneer or other cosmetic dentistry procedure to repair the chipped or broken tooth.
Knocked-out tooth: The chances of saving a knocked-out tooth are highest when seen by a dentist within one hour, so you will need to act quickly. Find the tooth and hold it by the crown (the top part that is usually visible). If dirty, rinse it off with water but do not scrub it or remove any skin or tissues. Place the tooth between your cheek and gums, in a small container of milk (or water with pinch of table salt), or in a tooth preservation product. In all cases, call us immediately. If we are not able to save the tooth, we may recommend a dental implant, topped with a crown, for a strong, natural-looking replacement.
Lost crown: Make an appointment to see us and bring the crown with you. If you can’t get to us right away and the tooth is causing pain, you can try applying a little clove oil (available at drug stores or in the spice aisle of your grocery store) with a cotton swab to the sensitive area.
Lost filling: At your appointment, we will clean and restore the cavity using an inconspicuous composite filling.
Toothache: Rinse your mouth with warm water. Gently floss to remove any food caught between your teeth. If your mouth appears swollen, you can apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller on your gums near the aching tooth; it can burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, contact us for a consultation.
Stuck food or objects: Try to gently remove the food or object with floss. Never use a sharp or pointed instrument; pins and other sharp objects can damage your teeth and gums. See us as soon as possible.
Tongue, cheek, gums, and lip injury: To control the bleeding, gently rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water). Apply pressure to the injury site with a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag for 15 to 20 minutes. To further control bleeding and relieve pain, place a cold compress on the outside of your mouth for five to 10 minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, call us immediately or go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with gauze until you can be seen and treated.
Infection or abscess: If you have a painful, pimple-like swelling on your gum, you might have an infection or abscess (infection around the root of the tooth). This is a serious condition that needs to be treated immediately. Call us as soon as possible. In the meantime, rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day to help reduce pain and draw the pus out. Once we evaluate your condition, we may recommend root canal therapy.
Orthodontic problems: If a wire breaks or sticks out, try using a pencil eraser to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can’t reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can see us. Never cut the wire! You could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs. You can also use orthodontic wax to temporarily reattach loose braces. For any problems with your braces, you should see your orthodontist as soon as possible.
If you are experiencing a dental emergency, contact our dental care center as soon as possible. Our entire team is ready to help relieve your pain and restore your tooth. We take pride in providing a complete range of dental services with state-of-the-art technology in a caring, patient-centered environment.Contact Us