In a dental emergency, keeping calm and responding quickly can make a huge difference for your smile’s health.
Dental emergencies can strike at any time. Some cases require you to visit our Bellflower dental office as soon as possible for emergency dental care. Others have a grace period of a few days or longer, and you need to manage your dental pain until your appointment. No matter the case for you, how you respond in the time between can be just as critical for saving your smile as seeing an emergency dentist for treatment.
Knocking out a tooth can be scary, but you must stay as calm as possible while making your way to the dentist’s office. Can a knocked-out tooth be saved? There is a short window of about 30 minutes to an hour in which your emergency dentist can reinsert the tooth and keep it from being lost forever. However, success often hinges on what you do in the time between your dental accident and when you walk through our practice’s front doors.
Pick up your tooth immediately, but be sure only to touch the crown, leaving the root alone. You can clean the tooth by putting it under running water for no more than 10 seconds, but don’t use soap. You also shouldn’t try rubbing the tooth clean, especially if there are any tissue fragments stuck to the root.
You have the best chance of saving your tooth if you place it back in its socket and gently bite down on a clean cloth or rag to hold it in place. However, if you can’t fit it, don’t force it. Instead, keep it moist at all times, either by placing it between your gums and cheek or putting it in a glass of milk. Don’t try placing baby teeth back in the empty socket since it might harm the unerupted adult tooth below.
If your toothache lasts more than a day or two, then it’s time to give your dentist a call. Persistent tooth pain is often a sign of a deep cavity as bacteria and tooth decay steadily make their way through a tooth’s sensitive inner tissues. Immediately seeing your dentist once these warning alarms start blaring can mean treatment only requires a dental filling or crown. However, ignoring the signs can lead to your tooth dying, and even a root canal can’t save it.
To prevent needing dental extraction, keep your eye out for any of the following cavity symptoms and call your emergency dentist immediately:
White or discolored spots on the enamel
Physical hole in the tooth
Pain when biting down or chewing
Sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets
Chronic bad breath
If your toothache strikes at night, you won’t be able to see our team right away. Need to know how to stop tooth pain fast? Over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin and acetaminophen are great for quickly dulling your discomfort while giving you pain relief for hours. Other common home remedies for toothaches include hydrogen peroxide rinses, peppermint tea bags, and garlic.
Toothaches can also be a sign of a dental abscess forming. An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in the gums or at the base of a tooth once the tissues become badly infected enough. Besides dental pain, abscesses also often come with an unpleasant taste in your mouth; bad breath; fever and nausea; and facial, neck, and jaw swelling. There are three types of abscesses, depending on where and how they form:
Periodontal abscesses occur in the gums around a tooth’s base when advanced gum disease sets in. At this late stage, gum disease has destroyed enough of your teeth’s supportive base to loosen your teeth, and this pocket of pus can speed the process along.
Periapical abscesses form at the tooth’s tip as bacteria and dental decay attack the central dental pulp down to the root. It appears during the last stage of tooth decay, and if left alone, your tooth will become beyond saving and will need to be removed. Dentists can drain this dental abscess with a root canal along with the rest of your cavity treatment.
This last type of dental abscess forms when a foreign object becomes trapped in or under the gums, festering there until it becomes infected enough to create an abscess. A gingival abscess typically looks like a white pimple on the gums as it doesn’t go as deep as the others.
When treating an abscess, the pus pocket must be safely drained and disinfected. You should only ever have an emergency dentist take care of your abscess. Some patients may want to do this on their own, asking, “Should I burst a tooth abscess?” While this can relieve some of your toothache pain, it can have potentially dangerous consequences. A popped abscess can spread infection not just to the rest of your mouth but into your jaw, head, and neck, too. In some extreme cases, it can even lead to potentially fatal sepsis.
With dental infections, it’s essential to keep the area as clean as possible. We recommend periodically gargling with a warm saltwater rinse for about 30 seconds. This can help kill oral bacteria and prevents more from growing later. Saltwater is also great for removing food and debris that may be trapped under the gums, making it especially helpful with gingival abscesses. Never try using any point or sharp tools to help you remove objects lodged in your mouth.
Chipped, Fractured, or Broken Tooth
Sometimes an impact to the face doesn’t knock out the whole tooth. Instead, your tooth may have only fractured or broken. Not all chips and cracks are emergencies. If they don’t break past the outer enamel surface, you might not need to have your tooth repaired. However, you should see a dentist immediately if your chipped or cracked tooth is painful or causes excessive bleeding.
Dental pain means that the damage extends into the sensitive inner tooth, potentially putting your tooth’s life at risk. There may be some gum swelling near any fractures, and you can use a cold compress to help reduce it. Even surface-level damage can create sharp enough edges to scratch up the insides of your mouth, leading to bleeding gums, lips, cheeks, and tongues. If this is the case with you, keep the area clean by rinsing it with warm salt water to prevent it from getting infected.
Can a broken tooth be glued back together? It may be tempting for more hands-on, industrious patients to try taking your cracked or chipped tooth into their own hands. However, you should never try fixing your tooth by yourself using only gumption and superglue. Not only is it not safe to ingest the glue, but you’re likely to make huge mistakes that will only cause further problems. Depending on the damage’s severity, broken tooth repair may involve a dental filling, crown, or root canal. If the break is bad enough, the tooth may need to be pulled.
Loose teeth are normal for children, but adults should see their dentist immediately if a permanent tooth is loose. For most patients, their teeth start becoming unmoored due to advanced periodontitis. During this last stage of gum disease, plaque, tartar, and oral bacteria attack and destroy the foundation of gum, bone, and connective tissues holding your teeth in place. As this supportive base disappears, your tooth becomes increasingly at risk of falling out. With severe gum disease, there are other warning signs to look for before your teeth become loose:
Painful, swollen gums
Bright red gums
Bad taste in the mouth
Pain when biting down
Pus around the teeth and gums
Will loose teeth tighten back up? If an impact to the face only caused minor looseness, it may be possible for the gums and connective tissues to tighten back up around the tooth. However, with periodontal disease, the damage to your soft tissues and jawbone are permanent. Until you can see your dentist, try leaving the tooth as alone as possible. Don’t touch, prod, or wiggle it around, and avoid chewing on that side of your mouth.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth are prone to painful dental problems, including cavities and gum disease, damage to nearby teeth, and cyst formation. If left alone and your third molars become a problem, you will need emergency wisdom teeth removal. Signs of a wisdom tooth emergency include:
Red and tender gums
Mouth and jaw pain
Swollen gums and jaw
Difficulty or inability to open your mouth
You should use an ice pack to reduce swelling, making sure to apply them on and off every 10 or 15 minutes. And similar to fractured and broken teeth, you should wash the wound with a saltwater rinse.