Man experiencing painful toothache over the holidays

Do I Need to Go to an Emergency Dentist? | Part I

So you just chipped your tooth on a stair, lost one of your pearly whites in a hockey game, or spit out a filling into the sink… Do you have a dental emergency?

Some dental problems need to be treated right away to save a tooth, alleviate severe pain, or treat a dangerous infection, but some can wait until your dental office opens for the day. Over the next two months, we are going to cover common dental problems, which should be treated as emergency situations, and what you can do for your teeth while you are waiting for treatment.

Did you know that South Anchorage Dental Center offers after hours emergency treatment? If you are unsure about the severity of your dental issue, feel free to call us at (907) 248-7275 during regular business hours or (907) 602-3136 after hours to talk to a professional!

Chipped, Cracked or Broken Tooth

If you have a small chip or a minor fracture in your tooth, it can wait for normal business hours. Just be sure to chew with caution so as not to chip the tooth further before you see the dentist. Severe cracks and deep fractures, however, require immediate treatment. Fissures that run down to the root of your tooth can cause a serious amount of pain, even nerve damage. Breakage like this, when not treated, could mean permanent loss of an adult tooth and more invasive (and expensive) treatment later on. Catching a broken tooth right away could save the tooth. Call your emergency dentist and let him know you are on your way. Before you leave the house, you can rinse your mouth with warm salt water to relieve the pain. You can also take acetaminophen. Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen because these are anticoagulants that can cause excess bleeding. Numbing gel can also damage gums, so do not use it. If you experience swelling, hold a cold compress to your cheek where the tooth is located.

Loose or Knocked-Out Tooth

Loose or knocked-out adult teeth can be a serious problem, because they may be lost if not treated right away and require invasive treatment later instead. In both cases, call your emergency dentist and try to hold your tooth in place in the meantime. For a knocked-out tooth, do not touch the roots, but hold it by the crown. Rinse the tooth off gently without scrubbing then see if you can place it back in the socket. Be extra careful not to swallow your tooth! For a loose or knocked-out tooth in place, bite down gently on a moistened wad of gauze or a wet tea back to hold it there. If it you cannot put the tooth back or it will not stay, keep it in a container of your saliva or milk and apply a cold compress to the location until you arrive at the dentist. Your dentist may be able to reinsert the preserved tooth!

Loose or Missing Filling or Crown

A loose filling or crown may not be immediately obvious, you may just experience an intense taste best described as “pennies” in your mouth. If you think you may have a loose filling or crown, it is advised to go to the emergency dentist, but you can wait a few days if time or travel restrains you. Fillings and crowns that have fallen out can be temporarily put back in place with vaseline, toothpaste, chapstick, or a small amount of denture adhsive or over-the counter dental cement. Do not use super glue or you will have issues bigger than your first emergency. Bite down on a dry washcloth to adhere the filling or crown. If you cannot locate the filling or crown, you can put a piece of chewed, sugar-free gum in its place until you visit the dentist. Be sure to visit the dentist as soon as you are able to avoid more invasive treatments in the future, such as root canal.

The best way to treat dental problems is to prevent them in the first place! Regular trips to the dentist can catch fractures and infections early. Accidents can be avoided by wearing mouth guards while playing sports, steering clear of hard foods, and watching your step. But for those who suffer a dental emergency, after hours care is available! At South Anchorage Dental Center, we provide a 24/7 emergency line to all Alaskans. Call (907) 248-7275 during business hours or (907) 602-3136 after hours to receive treatment.

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