If you have a serious dental emergency and you need urgent help, contact a dentist immediately. What constitutes a true emergency varies. However, in most situations, there is little a dentist can do until he or she has a chance to see you, so it is extremely important that you schedule a dental appointment. A dentist will diagnose and repair any problems before the situation worsens.
What to do for:
- Bleeding gums
- Broken or chipped tooth
- Lost crown or broken filling
- Jaw injuries
- Knocked-out tooth
- Mouth sores
- Sensitive teeth (hypersensitivity)
- Bleeding after extraction
An aching tooth is a very common dental emergency. A toothache is often a sign of infection in or around a tooth. Tylenol or aspirin can sometimes be effective in relieving pain. Antibiotics can relieve pain by reducing the effects of swelling and infection. If there is a hole in the tooth, you may soak a small cotton pellet in oil of cloves and place it at the site to relieve pain. Some toothaches indicate bacterial infections that can spread. For this reason, it is extremely important that you schedule a dental appointment. A dentist will diagnose and repair any problems before the situation worsens.
Gums that bleed often and easily can mean serious dental problems. If your gums are red, swollen, inflamed, or bleed while brushing, you may be seeing an early sign of periodontal disease (see Gum Diseases).
The swelling and bleeding may be evidence of infection caused by the buildup of bacteria around your gums. Slight bleeding can be remedied by rinsing with three-percent hydrogen peroxide solution or warm salt water.
Excessive bleeding may be caused by advanced gum disease or other types of oral diseases. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is extremely important that you make an appointment with your dentist for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.
Chipped teeth are common and can be very unsightly. If the chipped tooth is left untreated, it may be more susceptible to fractures or further chipping in the future. If you have chipped a tooth, it is important that you schedule an appointment with your dentist.
When a tooth has been broken to the point that the pulp chamber (the center of the tooth containing the nerve and blood vessels) is exposed, call your dentist immediately.
Because the early stages of tooth decay are relatively painless and often go unnoticed, it is extremely important that you schedule an appointment with your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.
Usually, there is not a great deal of pain when you lose a crown. However, it is very important to make an appointment with your dentist to have this problem fixed as soon as possible.
A broken filling is often a sign that tooth decay has reached beneath the original filling or the filling has cracked and is too large to withstand ordinary biting pressure. If there is pain, it may be an indication that there is infection in the tooth. To help alleviate the pain, place a small amount of oil of cloves on a cotton pellet and place into the hole. It is extremely important that you call your dentist for an exam, evaluation, and treatment.
If, after experiencing trauma to the jaw, you find that you are not able to close your mouth in a normal fashion, your jaw may be dislocated. Remain calm and relaxed – quite often a dislocated jaw will slide back into place by itself. If the pain persists or the jaw does not slide into place, you should contact your dentist for an examination.
If you find that your jaw hurts when it is moved or if you cannot close your mouth, it is likely that you have fractured your jaw. Seek professional medical help at a hospital emergency room. The hospital will be able to treat your injury as well as advise whether you need to schedule an appointment to see your dentist.
A tooth that is knocked out of its socket can sometimes be saved. The likelihood of success depends on the amount of time before the tooth is re-implanted. Re-implantation is most successful when performed within 60 minutes of the time of loss.
If a tooth is knocked out, you should put the tooth into a cup of warm milk and immediately call your dentist for further instructions.
Canker sores are very small and painful sores that occur inside the mouth. They can be caused by stress, biting the inside of the mouth, or by a reaction to certain foods.
If you find that you have developed a canker sore on the inside of your mouth, apply an over-the-counter medicine like Orajel or Campho-Phenique. This will produce a bandage-like film over the sore.
Cold sores or fever blisters are different from canker sores in that they are caused by a chickenpox-like virus. These sores are very contagious when a breakout occurs. Once you contract the virus, it remains in your body forever. Conditions like stress, fatigue, illness, or fever can cause a breakout. The sore begins as a blister and then becomes an open sore. It will eventually scab up and fall off. Use a topical ointment, such as Zilactin, to relieve pain.
Sensitivity to hot and cold substances is a common dental problem. It occurs when the dentin (the second layer of the tooth) loses a portion of its hard enamel protective coating. This exposes some of the odontoblasts (threadlike cells that extend throughout the dentin in the tooth) that are sensitive to temperature and touch. Their job is to regenerate new dentin from the nutrients delivered by the blood cells. When the dentin is damaged, the odontoblasts relay responses to the nerves, which usually register feelings from mild discomfort to severe pain.
Fortunately, if hypersensitivity becomes an increasing problem and prohibits a person from enjoying foods or drinks, it can be remedied. The dentist can recommend certain toothpastes that are designed to reduce sensitivity. Another solution is to apply a chemical sealant with bonding agents to form a protective layer on the tooth.
Hypersensitivity may also be a signal of more serious dental problems. If you are experiencing chronic hypersensitivity, schedule an appointment with your dentist for evaluation.
Slight bleeding after having a tooth extracted is normal. A clot will usually form within one hour. If bleeding continues, place a thick gauze pad over the extraction site. Apply pressure to the area to control the flow of blood. If bleeding persists, you may try soaking a tea bag in water, placing it inside a thin gauze pad, and applying pressure for one hour. The tea leaves contain minerals which may aid in clotting.
If bleeding has not stopped after a few hours, it is important that you contact your dentist.