Sometimes, accidents happen. In the case that an accident does occur, John A. Garza, DDS is here to help. Patients that are in severe pain, have lost a tooth, have loose teeth, have an infection, or are bleeding from the mouth may need immediate dental care. Luckily, they don’t have to wait for regular business hours. Dr. Garza treats a wide variety of dental emergencies including root canals and extractions.
When should I seek emergency dental Care?
There are no strict criteria that make something a dental emergency. Issues like a knocked out tooth demand immediate intervention to hopefully try and save the tooth. The same is true if you break off a tooth when eating something because the tooth is now open to infection.
Issues of tooth pain may or may not require emergency assistance. If your gums have developed an abscess, this can create severe pain and we should take a look as soon as possible. Other tooth pain may pass. If in doubt, give us a call and we’ll discuss your situation.
common dental emergencies
While there isn’t a set list of things that constitute a dental emergency we like to help our patients have an idea of how to handle certain situations that can arise. Plus, it’s important to know if they require immediate attention or not. Here are various possible dental emergencies:
Knocked out Teeth
When two people collide and you’ve knocked out a few teeth, this is an emergency. The good news is that knocked out teeth can usually be saved if the ligament can be kept alive. The first thing to do is to retrieve the knocked out tooth or teeth, and handle it gently. When a tooth is knocked out the ligament attached is destroyed. For the tooth to survive, the tooth needs all the tiny nerve fibers to remain attached. Pick up the tooth by the crown. Rinse it off with water. Don’t shrub it clean, and don’t remove any tissue fragments still attached as they can help to save the tooth.
First, try and put the tooth back in place. If it won’t stay in place, put the tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gums. The saliva will help keep the tooth alive. If that’s not possible, store the tooth in cold, whole milk. There is an increased chance of saving the tooth if you can be seen within the first few hours after it was dislodged.
Chipped or Broken Teeth
A broken tooth, a deep crack or large chip could be considered a dental emergency. If the interior of the tooth is exposed along with its nerves and blood vessels it can create some serious pain. Sudden pain when eating, especially if the food is either hot or cold, is a telltale sign you’ve cracked a tooth and the nerves are telling you about it.
If your tooth breaks in half, this is also an emergency. The pulp of the tooth is now exposed and open to bacteria and infection. If an infection enters the broken tooth and it is left unattended then it will need a root canal or possible extraction. Find the piece or pieces of the broken tooth. Rinse the tooth pieces and your mouth with warm water.
You’ll probably have some bleeding, so take a piece of gauze and place it over the spot and gently bite down to create some pressure to stop the bleeding. A cold compress applied to the cheek will help with pain and swelling.
Unlike knocked out full teeth, broken teeth cannot be put back together. However, we still want to see the tooth piece or pieces, if possible. If the chipped area isn’t that large, we may be able to place a filling or apply dental bonding. A porcelain veneer can mask a chip, as well. For more extensive fractures, placing a crown over the tooth is more likely.
“Dr Garza has been my dentist for close to 20 years and has been a blessing to me and my family. I have sent many people to him including friends and family over the years when they have been at their last resort. For me; Dr. Garza fixed a botched root canal I had done that caused me so much pain and sensitivity.
Not only was he able to fix it he improved the stability of the root canal with a post and made the crown right in his office in 20 minutes instead of having to wear a temporary one for 3 weeks. I have not look back since. He has done amazing work on even my two kids ages 6-7. They are never afraid to see the dentist, in fact he gets hugs! If you want a dentist who educates himself on all new and upcoming procedures and takes pride in his work and patients this is the place for you.” – Mifi M.
Detached crowns and fillings
If a filling comes out or a crown comes off these do not usually constitute a dental emergency. We need to see you during the next day’s business hours. It’s likely that both of these possibilities were due to decay. With crowns, decay can form under the crown on the natural tooth. With fillings, decay can develop between the old filling and the tooth.
Where your filling was is now going to be open to bacteria, so it’s good to try and cover the hole. You can place a piece of sugarless gum into the tooth. Do not use regular gum, as the sugar will cause pain. You can also fill the hole with dental cement that can be found in the dental section of the pharmacy. If there is any pain, apply clove oil with a cotton swab to the area with the missing filling.
If a crown comes loose or falls off, find the crown and clean the inside. You can place it back onto the tooth, if possible. This will protect what remains of the natural tooth. Place dental cement on the inside of the crown and put it back on the tooth. If you can’t find dental cement, denture adhesive can be used. Don’t put Super Glue or other household glue on it. These are not meant to be in your mouth, plus they can damage both the tooth and the crown.
When we see you, Dr. Garza will remove the new decay and place a new filling. If the tooth with the crown has new decay, we’ll need to remove that and prepare the tooth for the crown again. We will likely need to make adjustments to the crown.
Toothaches can come on suddenly and be quite painful. They can keep you from being able to sleep or concentrate at work. If the pain is severe and doesn’t pass in a couple of hours, this would constitute a dental emergency because you could have an abscess or a tooth needing an emergency root canal.
Try to alleviate the pain first. Make sure your mouth is clean by rinsing with warm water and floss to remove any food lodged between your teeth. You can find brush-on over-the-counter toothache relievers, but be careful not to get this gel on your gums. If the toothache lasts more than a day or two, please call us.
Hot and cold sensitivity isn’t usually an emergency but is a sign that the nerves are being irritated. Hot sensitivity with throbbing and a sensation that goes back to the ear are more serious and need immediate attention. Facial swelling is also urgent, as it usually denotes a possible infection and the need for antibiotics.
Objects Stuck between teeth
If something gets stuck between your teeth, the object kind of merits whether or not this is an emergency. With small pieces of food, such as popcorn hulls, try using dental floss and the tip of your toothbrush to dislodge the item. You can’t leave pieces of food under the gums as this will lead to gum irritation and possible infection. A toothpick can also be used to gently move under the gumline and remove the debris. Be careful not to push it deeper.
Do not use a pin, knife tip, or other sharp or metal object. These can damage your gums and the enamel on your teeth. If you can’t dislodge the object, call us.
Can Dr. Garza perform emergency root canals and extractions?
Sometimes tooth pain can be severe. These are usually the cases when the interior of the tooth are infected or when there is an abscess in your gums. When decay penetrates the enamel it enters the dentin of the tooth. That’s where the nerves and blood vessels are found, and when the infection reaches them you will know. This infection now merits a root canal to save the tooth from needing extraction. Dr. Garza performs emergency root canals when the patient is having severe pain.
In some cases, if the tooth has been broken or if decay has been left for so long that there isn’t enough healthy tooth to save, an emergency extraction could be called for. Dr. Garza can perform these extractions as emergency procedures, if necessary. In these cases, the tooth cannot be saved by a root canal so it will need to be extracted and future replacement with a dental implant.
How can I avoid a dental emergency?
Accidents happen, but some accidents that involve your teeth can be prevented by wearing the proper protective gear including face masks and mouth guards. Mouth guards don’t just prevent or lessen concussions they also protect your teeth.
Broken teeth and chipped teeth often are the result of some questionable uses of your teeth. Opening bottles with your molars, chewing ice, and other habits can increase your chance of a broken tooth. Odds are eventually you’ll crack or break a tooth. If nothing else, you’ll weaken your teeth for the future.
Cost of emergency dental care
This is an additional charge for emergency care when it doesn’t occur during regular office hours, but it is not substantial. This is to simply cover the staff that needs to come in. If you have an emergency during business hours, the charges are the same as usual for these procedures.