What’s considered a dental emergency? Typically we would consider a dental issue that requires immediate medical attention to save the tooth, continuous gum bleeding that needs to be stopped or severe pain as a dental emergency. It’s unfortunate that most hospitals and Emergency Departments are not equipped for or trained in dental emergencies. No matter where you are located or having a dental emergency, it is usually better to seek out immediate care for a dentist rather than a hospital if you can find one. In this blog, we are covering the most common dental emergencies and some advice on how to handle the situation until you can receive proper care.
Trauma to the Face and Mouth
Emergencies or trauma involving the face and mouth that require immediate medical attention include jaw fractures, jaw dislocations, serious cuts or lacerations to the face and mouth, or an abscess or infection that is very swollen or affecting your breathing or swallowing.
These are situations where you'd want to call 911 or go to a hospital ER. Don't wait for a dentist's office to handle a potentially life-threatening condition.
A Cracked or Broken Tooth
A cracked or broken tooth is one of the most common dental emergencies seen by dentists. Regardless of how the tooth cracks, we often see situations where the nerve of the tooth gets exposed, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort. An exposed nerve is also extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations - especially cold.
If this happens, you should immediately book an appointment with Dr. Kivel and let our team know you are in pain so we can get you in the same day. If you are away on vacation and in a great deal of pain, we would encourage you to seek out a dentist in the area who can help you right away. Being in Ashland, we see lots of visitors here for the Shakespeare Festival or other leisure, and similarly, we can help them out while they are far from their “home” dentist. While you wait for an appointment, you can gently bite a fresh piece of gauge, and definitely avoid cold drinks and foods. This can protect the nerve from further damage.
Keep in mind that this type of dental emergency is almost always avoidable! By keeping up with regular dental exams and completing recommended dental treatment, you can avoid this type of situation. Dr. Kivel can usually see potential problems and tae steps to prevent them. There is a joke around the dental profession about how teeth always “wait” to cause a problem until you are on vacation, at a graduation or other equally unfortunate timed event!
A Knocked Out Tooth
A knocked out tooth is yet another common dental emergency. Almost everyone can think of a time when they or someone they knew had a tooth knocked out, often times as a child. In this situation, retrieve the tooth and hold it by the crown to rinse it thoroughly with water. During this process, take care not to remove any soft tissues attached to the tooth.
If you (or the affected person) are willing, you can try to gently insert the tooth back in the socket, but do not force it. If at all possible, try to visit Soulsmile (or a dentist in your area) within thirty minutes of the accident. It is ideal to transport the tooth (or teeth) either in a container of milk or in the patient's mouth.
A Crown That Comes Off
If the crown falls off due to injury, you should visit a dentist right away! This situation should be treated as a “knocked out tooth” above.
More commonly, a crown comes off while eating, brushing your teeth or flossing. In this case, the crown can sometimes be reattached by a dentist. However, there are times that the tooth has an ongoing issue (like decay or nerve damage) that will require a new crown to be fabricated or additional treatment. One way to get an idea if it will be possible to reattach the crown is to look inside it. If it is “clean” with no tissues or tooth material, it might be able to be used!
While you wait for an appointment, it's a good idea to place the crown back on temporarily to protect the underlying tooth structure and nerve. You can purchase over-the-counter denture cream at your local drugstore. You can also use a small dab of toothpaste. Before you use the denture cream, be sure to carefully determine the correct way it’s supposed to fit on your tooth. Test the fit before applying the cream. If it's on correctly, it should feel comfortable when you close your teeth together. Avoid biting down too hard or you may damage your crown.
An Abscess or Infection
A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that develops due to a bacterial infection in the mouth. Abscesses can develop on different parts of the tooth, and because they will not go away on their own, it is incredibly important to treat them as soon as they develop. The symptoms of a tooth abscess are sensitivity to hot or cold, severe toothache, sensitivity to pressure, fever, facial swelling, swollen lymph nodes in the jaw and neck area. If you notice a sudden rush of foul tasting fluid in your mouth followed by pain relief, it is likely that your abscess has ruptured.
Treatment for a dental abscess at Soulsmile will consist of draining the pus from your abscess and treating the infection with antibiotics. Treatment often requires a root canal to thoroughly remove the decayed portion of your nerve, which can save the abscessed tooth; otherwise, the tooth must be removed. The bacterial infection from a tooth abscess can be incredibly dangerous if it spreads to your jaw, neck, or brain, or if you develop sepsis, which is a life-threatening infection that spreads through your body, so we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible
Contact Us to Be Seen Right Away
At Soulsmile, we are highly adept at handling every kind of dental emergency. We also place a premium on keeping people out of pain and handling emergencies promptly. We can always get you in on the same ay for a dental emergency. We also list Dr. Kivel’s emergency line on our voicemail which can be called or texted outside of our regular hours. And the best thing is, we always handle emergency cases on a preferential basis. Give us a call at 541.482.4955 to book an appointment.