No matter how much we try to avoid them, dental emergencies can, and do happen. Being prepared for these possibilities ahead of time can help you make the best of an emergency situation. Here are some common dental emergencies we see at North Creek Family Dentistry and our recommendations for what to do.
Abscessed Tooth: A tooth becomes abscessed when bacteria from a cavity reach the inner pulp tissue of a tooth, where the nerves and blood vessels live. These teeth can be extremely painful when the nerve tissue is irritated and inflamed, or may not hurt at all if the nerve tissue dies. You may notice swelling around your gum tissue or the side of your face. You may also see a place on your gums or next to your tooth where pus is draining, especially if you push gently on the tooth or swollen tissue. When a tooth becomes abscessed, there are two treatment options to remove the infection: remove the pulp tissue (root canal therapy) or remove the entire tooth (extraction). Depending on the extent of the infection, an antibiotic may also be prescribed. Call our office right away if you think you have an abscessed tooth. If left untreated, abscessed teeth can lead to pain, fever, and swelling in the neck and face. Bacteria can also spread to other areas of your body, such as your brain or heart. If you notice these symptoms and are unable to reach our office, go to the emergency room right away.
Cracked Tooth or Restoration: Teeth and restorations may crack when a combination of cavities and daily wear and tear undermines the strength of the tooth, allowing it to fracture. The greater the amount of tooth missing and depth of the crack, the greater the amount of treatment needed to restore the tooth will be. When a tooth cracks, first attempt to gather large pieces of the tooth or restoration to bring with you do your dental appointment. This may help us assess the extent of the crack and determine treatment. In some cases, such as a gold or porcelain crown falling off but not breaking the tooth, these pieces may even be able to be used again to restore your tooth. Rinse and clean your mouth. If the crack is painful, you may take over the counter pain medications. Call our office as soon as you are able. Let us know which tooth broke and whether or not it is painful. We will see you as soon as possible to restore your tooth.
Traumatic Accident: Accidents to the head and face often affect teeth and the mouth. If an accident breaks your tooth, rinse your mouth and bite on a moist piece of cotton or tissue to stop any bleeding. You may save large pieces of teeth that have fractured off to see whether they can be used as part of restoring your teeth. Keep these pieces moist in milk or water, and handle them as minimally as possible. Call our office right away, as the amount of time since the accident can make a big difference in determining whether teeth can be saved or if more extensive treatment is needed. If you have trauma to the soft tissue of your mouth (tongue, cheeks, gums, or lips), rinse the area with warm salt water to disinfect and soothe it. You may take over the counter pain medications and alternate ice and heat packs to the area to manage pain until you are able to come in for an appointment.
Pain around Wisdom Teeth: Wisdom teeth can have pain for a variety of reasons. They may cause pain as they are erupting or moving through the bone and gum tissue. Sometimes a small piece of gum tissue remains over the back side of wisdom teeth and can get inflamed. Like any other tooth in the mouth, they may get infected or abscessed. Wisdom teeth that are impacted may develop cysts around them that can also be painful. If you are having pain in your wisdom teeth, give us a call so that we can do a thorough examination and determine why you are in pain. That way, we’ll know how to treat you to get you out of pain. Until you are able to come in for an appointment, you can manage pain with over the counter pain medications, and alternating ice and heat packs. Rinsing with warm salt water can also help inflamed tissues in the area.
Arming yourself with knowledge is the first step to managing any emergency situation. When you have a dental emergency, give North Creek Family Dentistry a call so that we can help you assess what is damaged and what your options are for restoring it. We will do our best to make your treatment quick, convenient, and painless. Call 402-413-0505 to schedule your appointment.