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What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

More than one million people seek emergency care for teeth and gum problems every year. You may take the very best care of your oral health, but emergencies, like cracked teeth, infections, and knocked-out teeth, still happen. 

At Today’s Dentistry, experienced dentist Peter K. Lee, DDS, and our friendly team provide last-minute appointment requests to support you in case of a dental emergency. An emergency is often the result of an injury or infection that may result in tooth loss, bleeding, or severe pain.

Here’s when to take advantage of the emergency services offered at our San Jose, California, office. 

Soft-tissue injuries

Injury to your lips, tongue, or gums can result in serious bleeding. When blood mixes with your saliva, it can be hard to determine how much bleeding is present. 

Clean the affected area and apply a compress to stop the bleeding. This helps you see the true nature of the injury. Deep soft-tissue injuries may require stitches or other treatments to promote healing and prevent infection.

We recommend you rinse your mouth with saltwater, then attempt to control the bleeding by applying gauze or an unused tea bag to the site of the injury for about 20 minutes. Holding a cold pack or compress to your cheek for 10 minutes can also reduce bleeding and pain.

If you’re unable to stop the bleeding, contact Today’s Dentistry for treatment. Continue to apply pressure to the injury while you wait for treatment.

Broken, cracked, and chipped teeth

Sports injuries, auto accidents, a fall, or hard food can physically damage a tooth. When dental trauma exposes the tooth pulp or root, pain and the risk of infection can occur. 

It’s important to get immediate treatment for broken, cracked, and chipped teeth. If you can locate the chipped or broken piece of a damaged tooth, it’s important to preserve it. Rinse the fragment gently in water and preserve it in a container of cold milk until you reach Today’s Dentistry.

Knocked-out or loose tooth

If you have a tooth knocked out during a fall or sports incident, you need immediate care. If you wait too long, you risk losing your tooth because of damage to the root or tooth socket. 

Replanting the tooth within 30 minutes to an hour of its injury gives you the best chance of saving it. 

Follow these steps if you have a tooth knocked out:

If holding the tooth in your mouth isn’t possible, place it in a container of milk while you transport it to our office.

Tooth pain and abscesses

An advanced tooth infection can cause serious pain and the development of an abscess, a pocket of pus that develops at the site of an infection. 

Infections require immediate assessment and treatment because an untreated infection can cause tooth loss and potentially affect other parts of your body if it spreads through your bloodstream. An abscess can leak pus that causes infection in other parts of your mouth or your body.

If you have tooth pain from a lodged food particle, rinse your mouth with warm water and gently floss. Try over-the-counter pain medications for relief. If the discomfort persists or swelling occurs, call our office for an exam. 

Damage to your dental work

Crowns and fillings are sturdy, but aren’t impervious to wear-and-tear damage or trauma. If you lose any dental restoration, bring it to your emergency appointment. 

You can also reset a crown in place as you travel to Today’s Dentistry. Apply a small amount of toothpaste or denture cream to temporarily keep the crown in place and protect your damaged tooth. Don’t use this tooth for chewing until you get treatment.

If you have an urgent dental concern, contact Today’s Dentistry. We have special appointments set aside to fit you in and help you prevent the pain and possible complications of an untreated dental emergency. 

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