No one ever plans on a dental emergency ruining their day, but let us tell you, they occur more often than you might think! If you’re ever in need of urgent dental care because of an accident or severe toothache, know that you can always reach out to Dr. Lam. When you call with an emergency, we’ll do everything we can to see you as quickly as possible so we can relieve your pain and get you back to your regular life in record time.
Dental emergencies tend to pop up because of one of two reasons. Either someone has neglected their oral hygiene for a long time and has developed a painful infection, or they are the victim of an unfortunate accident. The best thing to do in either scenario is call our dental office as soon as possible, as this will enable us to schedule an appointment to see you right away.
In the meantime, however, here is what you can do to manage a few of the most common dental emergencies:
Rinse your mouth with saltwater and floss around the tooth to dislodge anything that might be stuck. If this doesn’t fix things already, you can take an OTC medication or place a cold compress on your face to lessen any pain. For the most extreme cases, we can provide fast relief using a root canal.
Do your best to find any pieces of the tooth that you can and place them in a safe container until you’re able to reach us. We’ll likely be able to repair the tooth with a dental crown, but if it’s extremely damaged, it may have to be extracted and replaced.
Find the tooth, pick it up by the crown, gently rinse it off, but DO NOT dry it. Try to place it back into its socket, and if this doesn’t work, put it in a container of milk or saltwater. Keeping it moist will help it stay alive until we can see you!
If you can find the filling/crown, try to put it back into your mouth after giving it a quick rinse. A little bit of toothpaste can help serve as a temporary adhesive. If you can’t get it to stay in place, put it in a safe container until we can see you.
While some dental emergencies can happen out of nowhere and be completely unrelated to your at-home oral care, most of them are more preventable than you’d think. If you aren’t sure where to start or the best way to practice prevention, consider the following tips below. They could make the difference between keeping your smile healthy and beautiful and needing restorative or emergency treatment in the future. Remember, you can always call Dr. Kathy Lam to get your dental emergency taken care of.
When you visit our office on a routine basis, ideally once every six months (or ever three to four months if you have gum disease), you can catch the earliest signs of dental disease before it has a chance to cause severe problems later with your smile. On top of a detailed exam and series of X-rays, our office can perform a thorough cleaning that removes plaque and further reduces the risk of decay from developing. Of course, this will need to be coupled with at-home oral care as well.
Since you only need to visit the dentist once every six months, the overwhelming majority of your oral care will need to be performed at home. Make sure to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time using fluoridated toothpaste and floss at least once a day. While it doesn’t matter when you practice oral care, you can further reduce your risk by brushing after having a meal. To be extra protective, it may be worth adding an oral rinse to your routine to keep enamel strong and protected.
Oral care matters, but your diet has a stronger influence on your oral health than you may realize. For example, the two biggest offenders of poor oral health are sugars and starches, two substances that are found in a wide variety of foods and beverages. If you want to reduce your overall risk for cavities, avoid things high in sugar and starch, such as soda, cookies, chips, and candy. Always include fruits and vegetables in your daily meals as they not only contain essential vitamins and nutrients, but they also work to scrub your teeth clean of food debris!
If you are active and play a sport where the risk for impact is high, you’ll need to wear a mouthguard. The fact of the matter is sports-related injuries account for about 40% of all dental emergencies. While store-bought solutions may be cheap, they aren’t quite as comfortable or durable as ones created and customized by a dentist.
Your teeth are the last thing you should use to open packages. Instead, use a pair of scissors as they can save you from an unexpected trip to the dentist. The same goes for bottles that require a bottle opener and nail clippers to trim your nails in a safe and sanitary way. Do your best to kick habits that damage teeth, such as chewing on pens, pencils, and other inanimate objects to relieve stress.
Treating a dental emergency can be as simple as having a patient take antibiotics to eliminate an infection or as complicated as needing to completely remove and replace a tooth. Basically, the cost of handling a dental emergency can vary widely depending on a person’s specific situation. So there are never any unpleasant surprises, we’ll quickly go over your treatment options when you come to see us for emergency care so you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be expected to pay.
If a dental emergency happens to you or a loved one, do you know what to do? If you are like many Americans, you do not know how to handle the situation. In fact, you may not even know if the issue you are having needs immediate care. It is normal to have several questions about dental emergencies because they are not widely discussed. Dr. Kathy Lam is always here for her patients, even during times of emergency. She is only a phone call away to answer your questions about dental emergencies while also providing the same-day care you need to save your smile.