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Dental Emergencies

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What to do in an Emergency

Accidents happen! Sometimes no matter how carefully we plan and even if we keep those check ups regularly there will be emergency problems. Dental Care of Stamford has a live answering service to take calls after office hours so that we can be there for you whenever you need us.

Get Help For Your Dental Emergency

Tips and Quick Fixes

Since we haven’t examined everyone who reads this information we want you to be sure and understand that these suggestions are of a general nature and are not necessarily applicable for every person or your particular situation. Consult your dentist about your specific problem. Call us: 203-324-6171
Here are the most common dental emergencies: (1.) Teeth that have been knocked out due to trauma and (2.) Teeth that have been broken as a result of an accident. In either case, it is important to know what to do and to act quickly. Please click here to read about what you should do in the event that your child suffers a dental injury. It can be alarming when your child is an emergency. We are here for you, call us and we will help you through it. 203-324-6171

If your tooth is broken or knocked out, the first thing is to save the broken part of the tooth in case it can be used in the repair of the damaged tooth. DO NOT rinse the tooth off with water.

Instead, if you can, push it back into the socket immediately. To be sure that you have it in correctly, make sure that it matches the adjacent tooth, then have the child bite together and be sure the teeth fit together normally. (This is also true in the case of an adult getting their tooth knocked out).

If you cannot get it back in, you must keep it wet. Hank’s Balanced Solution is a special liquid that simulates natural body fluids and is designed for this emergency. You should ask that the nurses’ office at school as well as sports teams keep a bottle of this solution on hand for emergencies. However, most people do not carry this product with them. Milk is the next best solution to place the tooth into . If you do not have access to milk, actually placing the tooth in your child’s mouth is the next best thing. The saliva in your mouth actually helps to preserve the tooth. Water is the worst solution and should be avoided, although anything is better than letting the tooth dry out. Then, see a dentist immediately. The sooner the tooth gets put back in the greater the likelihood is that the tooth can be retained.

Depending on the age of the child (younger teeth do better generally) and the time it was out of the mouth (under 5 minutes is best), the tooth may be replaced and remain healthy for years. Sometimes root canal is needed and sometimes the life span of the tooth is shortened, but the key thing is to get it back in fast and then look for professional help.

With chipped teeth the situation is more complicated. If your child is experiencing pain or sensitivity in the affected tooth, see a dentist immediately as this indicates that the tooth nerve may be injured. The dentist can perform a root canal or other necessary procedure to save the tooth. Afterwards, a porcelain crown or bonding material can be sculpted onto the tooth to replace the lost portion.

This can cause pain due to a severe cavity or a sharp edge from the broken tooth or filling.  Professional care is needed, but if you need immediate relief you can try  dental wax or putty to cover the sharp edge and tooth ache drops, anbasol,  in the case of a cavity until you can get into the dentist.  Pain medicine as above can be used as well.

Not often, but sometimes a temporary crown may fall off. If your temporary crown falls off please see your dentist as soon as possible.

This is important for two reasons.  First the tooth could get contaminated by germs and plaques and get sensitive or develop more decay.  And even more important, the temporary crown is designed to hold the tooth in its proper place.  If the temporary crown comes off for more than a few hours, the tooth can shift so that the new crown made by the dentist might not fit properly.  That would be very bad and might require a whole new crown to be made so if your crown comes off you must get it back on immediately. 

The best thing to do is to go back to the dentist to get it re-cemented so bring the old temporary crown with you.  In the meantime, put it back in yourself.  If it stays, then chew on the other side and get into the dentist as soon as you can. 

If it is loose, you can use some denture adhesive cream to hold it in.  This is a product that can be found in drug stores and is used by people with false teeth.  It is sticky so it will hold the temporary crown, but it does not set and become hard so it is easy to use and cannot be messed up.  Just put a little of the denture adhesive cream in the temporary crown and place it back on the tooth and gently bite down to be sure that it is in proper position.

Professional help is needed to fix or replace broken or loose braces or wires or the teeth may not move correctly.  That requires a dental visit.  Until then, you can cover the broken or sharp wire or brace with some dental wax or try and remove the loose end of the broken part.

Pain in teeth is usually due to a new cavity, additional decay under a leaking old filling or a broken tooth.  Sometimes it might be due to damage to the teeth from tooth clenching and grinding. There is nothing you can do except get to a dentist for help.  In the mean time you can take temporary pain relievers.  A good option is to combine over the counter Ibuprofen (Advil) 200mg and over the counter extra strength Tylenol 500 mg.  Take one of each or two of each at the same time every 4-6 hours.

NEVER place an aspirin in the painful area on the gum.  Aspirin is a strong  acid that will burn the oral tissues.

This is usually due to an infection from plaque and gum disease or from food getting stuck in between teeth.  You can try to gently brush and floss the area to dislodge any food debris.  Another option is to use warm salt water rinses.  You must get to  a dentist for help but can use pain relievers as for tooth pain.

This can be a cancer sore, a herpes lesion, a cut from a sharp cracker or a burn such as eating a very hot food like pizza pie that burns the roof of the mouth.  There are many over the counter creams or salves that are available in pharmacies for irritations in the mouth.  Use something specific for the mouth and apply as directed.  If it does to get better in a day or two, seek professional dental care.  There are stronger medicines that a dentist can use as well as lasers to treat the lesion.  And if it does not go way in a few days, even it stops hurting, it is imperative that a professional evaluation is performed because it could be something much more serious.

Wisdom teeth often cannot grow all the way into the mouth so they get stuck (impacted) and can cause infections.  The solution is to have them removed.  For short term pain relief warm salt water rinses (8 oz warm water and ½ tsp salt) every couple of hours will help draw out the inflammation and Advil / Tylenol for pain relief is helpful.  Often antibiotic are needed to prevent a serious infection as well, so get professional care if it does not feel better after a day or two.

Infections in the mouth can range from mild inflammation to serious infections from abscessed teeth or wisdom teeth. In addition, infections in the mouth can lead to other even more serious problems so it is very important that any infection is the mouth receive proper care and on going regular to cure it in addition to a course of antibiotics for the immediate condition.

(Until you can get professional help.) First, remember that pain is a symptom of a problem and not the actual problem. A tooth ache may be a sign of an infection. The important thing is to cure the infection. Stopping the pain is not the same as fixing the problem. On the other hand, at least in the short run, stopping the pain is a good thing too. Prescription pain relievers, along with antibiotics and needed treatment are the total approach. But until you can get professional care, we suggest that you take temporary pain relievers.

A good option is to combine over the counter Ibubrofen (Advil) 200mg and over the counter extra strength Tylenol 500 mg. Take one of each or two of each at the same time every 4-6 hours. If that is not enough you can increase that up to 4 Advil (800 mg) plus 2 extra strength Tylenol every 6 hours. NEVER place an aspirin tablet on the tongue or gum tissues since it is an acid and can burn the tissues. It only works internally by swallowing it and not on the surface. Other natural pain relievers and homeopathic remedies might work but be aware of possible drug interactions. Also, be aware that some people are allergic to Aspirin, Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Advil (Ibuprofen). If you do get a reaction to any drugs, contact your physician or call 911 for help.

There are so many drug interactions that it would take a very fat text book to list them all.  Even many household items like coffee (caffeine) and cigarettes (nicotine) have powerful drugs in them.  As an overview, do not combine drugs that cause drowsiness together.  Alcohol, beer, wine and liquor should never be combined with sleeping pills or pain relievers.  Over the counter drugs can interact with antibiotics or with prescription pain relievers to cause potentially bad reactions. Some antibiotics can even neutralize some birth control pills.  Grape fruit juice can make some sedatives or pain relievers work less well than normal.  Check with your medical doctor or dentist as soon as possible before combining any drugs.

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