If You Have A Swelling… especially one that either makes it difficult for you to breathe, or is so severe that it is causing one of your eyes to close, you should stop reading, and go immediately to an emergency room for treatment. A swelling of this type is usually due to a serious infection and is often accompanied by fever. This type of infection can be life threatening, so you should act right away. Go to the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911 if you can’t make the trip.
If You Have A Toothache… that manifests as severe, “throbbing” discomfort, we need to arrange to see you in the office as soon as possible. Many times however, if the discomfort can be controlled, an office appointment can wait until regular working hours. This would help you to avoid the additional expense of having us open the office during non-working hours.
What To Do
- To move any food that may be trapped between teeth, rinse the mouth with warm salt water; the goal is to clean the area around the sore tooth.
- Take whatever over-the-counter pain medication you would normally take for a headache. We recommend Acetaminophen as long as you are not allergic and there are no other contraindications.
- If you have swelling, use a cold compress.
What Not To Do
- Do not delay.
- Do not place an aspirin tablet in your mouth against the tooth that hurts – it will burn the inside of your cheek and gums.
Over-the-counter toothache remedies may provide slight, temporary relief, but do not address the real problem. If during regular business hours, call our office at (941) 556-9538 and you will be given an appointment. If outside of regular business hours, and the over-the-counter medication helps to control the pain, it’s OK to wait until regular business hours to make the call (to avoid the additional expense of after-hours care).
If You Have Fractured A Tooth Or Lost A Filling… it’s OK to wait until regular business hours to call our office. A completely fractured tooth means that a portion of the tooth is gone, leaving a rough surface to your tongue. Fractured teeth are usually initially quite sensitive to cold, so avoid cold to the area of the fracture and avoid chewing on that side until we can see you in the office for treatment. A tooth with an incomplete fracture means that the tooth appears intact with no piece missing. A tooth with this kind of fracture usually elicits sharp discomfort on chewing and can also be sensitive to cold.
What To Do
- With warm water, rinse the affected area and use a facial compress.
- Avoid cold to the area and chewing on that side.
- Recover any fragments and call our office during regular business hours.
If You Have Temperature Sensitivity… the following should help you know how to proceed: Cold sensitivity is fairly common. It may be caused by a condition that needs immediate attention (like a fractured tooth or deep dental decay), or by gum recession and root exposure.
In perfect health, there is no gum recession and so none of the roots of any of the teeth are exposed (visible) when you look in your mouth. When root surfaces are exposed to the oral environment because of gum recession, cold sensitivity is common. The causes of gum recession are somewhat controversial among experts, but if the recession has not become severe, no treatment is usually recommended other than brushing with toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth.
If you have cold sensitivity due to gum recession, this is not a dental emergency. Usually sensitivity from gum recession does not have a sudden onset. If it is severe, make an appointment during regular office hours because many times, there are things that can be done to minimize the sensitivity. If the cold sensitivity had a sudden onset, we would suspect deep dental decay as a probable cause. In this case, call the office and make an appointment as soon as possible.
Decay doesn’t just go away. It continually gets worse. The earlier treatment is accomplished, the better your chances of avoiding more costly treatment to save the tooth. Another important factor in evaluating cold sensitivity has to do with how it is manifested: Is it a “fleeting” cold sensitivity that goes away quickly once the cold stimulus has been removed, or is it a more prolonged and lingering discomfort that is likely to indicate a more serious problem that is merely triggered by the cold stimulus? Sudden onset of hot sensitivity often indicates a problem for which you should seek immediate attention.
What To Do
- If you are experiencing cold or hot sensitivity that is confined to one or two teeth and had a sudden onset, call the office during regular hours and you will be given an appointment for evaluation.
If You Experience Traumatic Tooth Loss (Avulsion)… this is caused by a sudden, sharp blow to a tooth causing it to be “knocked out”. The entire tooth (root included) is completely removed from its bony housing in the jaw.
What To Do
Time is of the essence in cases of traumatic avulsion.
- The tooth should be located and immediately re-implanted into the socket from which it came (so that the edge of the avulsed tooth matches the edge of the next tooth over as much as possible).
- If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse (do not thoroughly clean) with milk or water, but re-implant (push it gently back where it came from) as soon as possible.
- Hold it there by finger pressure for as long as it takes for it to stay there on its own (this can take some time – as much as an hour or more). Do this using clean cloth or sterile gauze.
- If there is swelling from the trauma, an ice pack should be applied to the swollen area.
- It is OK to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen) to control any discomfort in the interim as long as you are not allergic and there are no other contraindications to its use.
What Not To Do
- Do not delay in re-implanting the tooth as soon as possible – the sooner, the better. That is what a dentist would do were he or she at the scene.
- If the tooth is located but is dirty, do not try to scrub it clean. Rinse gently with water or milk (only if available) and re-implant at once.
If You Are Experiencing Acute, Painful Muscle Spasm… this is most often caused by a problem with your bite relationship or dental occlusion. Problems with the occlusion mean that the teeth are forced to “bump together” in such a way that causes the muscles that move the jaw to work in an uncoordinated fashion. If the occlusion is not corrected, symptoms that are usually chronic in nature can become acute and very uncomfortable. This is the most common underlying cause behind most Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders. Sometimes the jaws can even become “locked either open or closed and can create a very distressing episode of muscle spasm.
What To Do
- If symptoms become acute, call us immediately for an evaluation.
- During acute episodes, use moist heat to the area for symptomatic relief.
What Not To Do
- Avoid eating anything that requires vigorous chewing, and see us as soon as possible.