Information on Emergencies for Our Patients
One of the most common dental emergencies is a toothache. A toothache can result from a broken tooth, dental decay or infection. A common cause is a cavity becoming deep enough that bacteria penetrate and infect the pulp of the tooth, which contains the nerves and blood vessels. As the infection proceeds, the pulp dies and the infection often spreads into the bone supporting the tooth, forming an infected, pus filled cavity called an abscess.
This process is typically quite painful and requires prompt professional attention to manage pain and damage to the surrounding structures. Sometimes, a missing filling or crown is the culprit, allowing otherwise normal stimuli to cause significant pain because the nerve inside the tooth is less protected. If a crown or filling falls out, please come in to see the dentists at Smiles of Chandler before it becomes a problem.
Sometimes dental injuries occur through sports or accidents. Fractured teeth can often result in these occasions. Depending on the location of the fracture, this can be primarily a cosmetic issue, but on other occasions, the fracture puts the survivability of the tooth at stake.
Minor cosmetic fractures can often be repaired by bonding tooth colored filling material to the teeth. Deeper fractures may expose the pulp. When this happens the tooth needs to be cleaned out through root canal therapy, followed by the placement of a crown to provide structural support to the treated tooth.
If there is a fracture that runs down towards the root(s) of the tooth, the tooth will likely need to be replaced with a bridge or implant due to infection that will otherwise keep coming back. Other accidents can result in teeth being pulled completely or partially out of the jaw.
In these cases it is extremely important that you see the dentist immediately. This is because the survival of the tooth is good if you see the dentist within an hour, but survivability decreases over the course of 24 hours after the accident until little hope is left of saving the tooth.
If this emergency occurs, only handle the tooth by the crown (the biting portion), keep it moist, and don’t try to clean it other than a quick rinse with water until you get to the dentist. Lip and cheek bites are also common injuries and some can be serious. If there is excessive bleeding, slow it down with gauze and come in to see us.
Once in a while a popcorn kernel or other object becomes lodged in between the teeth and gums. If it is not coming out on its own and attempts to floss it out are failing, it is best not to dig for it with sharp objects. Doing so can not only result in further injury, but the object may become lodged deeper and become a site for gum infection. In most cases, we can remove the item quickly and painlessly.
How can dental emergencies be prevented?
At Smiles of Chandler, we are confident that preventive dentistry is the best kind of dentistry. Many dental emergencies are highly preventable through dental hygiene, regular check-ups and maintenance, as well as taking precautions to protect the teeth in situations where they are at high risk.
Personal dental hygiene habits, including brushing, flossing and mouthrinsing, are probably the most important preventative measures you can take to prevent dental emergencies. When the teeth and gums are kept clean, the bacteria that cause cavities, toothaches and gum disease can no longer flourish. This means not only will there be much less likelihood of having to deal with a toothache, you will have healthier teeth and gums and need much less dental work.
Professionally applied fluoride and dental sealants also effectively reduce the prevalence of decay. Please ask one of our doctors if these are right for you.
For those involved in contact sports, a custom mouthgaurd will significantly reduce the chances of fracturing or losing teeth to trauma. The doctors at Smiles of Chandler can make one for you that fits just right and gives your teeth the protection they need.
Don’t Wait to Treat Your Dental Emergency
If you find yourself in a dental emergency, please, don’t wait. Your care is our priority. We can help you out of pain and into a healthier mouth today. Call our Chandler, AZ dental office at 480-899-9484 immediately when you are ready for an appointment with Dr. Heaton.