Sometimes no matter how carefully we plan and even if we keep those check ups regularly there will be emergency problems. It is important that you keep the number of the dental office emergency phone line or answering service with you in case you need it.
Our office has an answering service to take calls after office hours as well as web pages for advice after hours.
** Since we have not examined everyone who reads this page we want you to be sure understand that these suggestions are of a general nature and are not necessarily applicable for every patient or your situation and you do need to consult with a dentist about your specific conditions.
1. Pain in a tooth Pain in teeth is usually due to a new cavity, additional decay under a leaking old filling or a broken tooth. Sometimes it might be due to damage to the teeth from tooth clenching and grinding. There is nothing you can do except get to a dentist for help. In the mean time you can take temporary pain relievers. A good option is to combine over the counter Ibuprofen (Advil) 200mg and over the counter extra strength Tylenol 500 mg. Take one of each or two of each at the same time every 4-6 hours.
NEVER place an aspirin in the painful area on the gum. Aspirin is a strong acid that will burn the oral tissues.
2. Gums sore and swollen. This is usually due to an infection from plaque and gum disease or from food getting stuck in between teeth. You can try to gently brush and floss the area to dislodge any food debris. Another option is to use warm salt water rinses. You must get to a dentist for help but can use pain relievers as for tooth pain.
3. Sore on the inside of mouth, tongue, cheeks. This can be a cancer sore, a herpes lesion, a cut from a sharp cracker or a burn such as eating a very hot food like pizza pie that burns the roof of the mouth. There are many over the counter creams or salves that are available in pharmacies for irritations in the mouth. Use something specific for the mouth and apply as directed. If it does to get better in a day or two, seek professional dental care. There are stronger medicines that a dentist can use as well as lasers to treat the lesion. And if it does not go way in a few days, even it stops hurting, it is imperative that a professional evaluation is performed because it could be something much more serious.
4. Broken Tooth. This can cause pain due to a severe cavity or a sharp edge from the broken tooth or filling. Professional care is needed but if you need immediate relief you can try dental wax or putty to cover the sharp edge and tooth ache drops, anbasol, in the case of a cavity until you can get into the dentist. Pain medicine as above can be used as well.
5. Painful Wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth often cannot grow all the way into the mouth so they get stuck (impacted) and can cause infections. The solution is to have them removed. For short term pain relief warm salt water rinses (8 oz warm water and ½ tsp salt) every couple of hours will help draw out the inflammation and Advil / Tylenol for pain relief is helpful. Often antibiotic are needed to prevent a serious infection as well, so get professional care if it does not feel better after a day or two.
6. What to do in case of an infection. Infections in the mouth can range from mild inflammation to serious infections from abscessed teeth or wisdom teeth. In addition, infections in the mouth can lead to other even more serious problems so it is very important that any infection is the mouth receive proper care and on going regular to cure it in addition to a course of antibiotics for the immediate condition.
7. What to do for relief of pain Until you can get professional help. First, remember that pain is a symptom of a problem and not the actual problem. A tooth ache may be a sign of an infection. The important thing is to cure the infection. Stopping the pain is not the same as fixing the problem. On the other hand, at least in the short run, stopping the pain is a good thing too. Prescription pain relievers, along with antibiotics and needed treatment are the total approach. But until you can get professional care, we suggest that you take temporary pain relievers.
A good option is to combine over the counter Ibubrofen (Advil) 200mg
and over the counter extra strength Tylenol 500 mg. Take one of each
or two of each at the same time every 4-6 hours. If that is not enough you can increase that up to 4 Advil (800 mg) plus 2 extra strength Tylenol every 6 hours. NEVER place an aspirin tablet on the tongue or gum tissues since it is an acid and can burn the tissues. It only works internally by swallowing it and not on the surface. Other natural pain relievers and homeopathic remedies might work but be aware of possible drug interactions. Also, be aware that some people are allergic to Aspirin, Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Advil (Ibuprofen). If you do get a reaction to any drugs, contact your physician or call 911 for help.
8. What kinds of drugs or medicines cannot be combined or taken together? There are so many drug interactions that it would take a very fat text book to list them all. Even many household items like coffee (caffeine) and cigarettes (nicotine) have powerful drugs in them. As an overview, do not combine drugs that cause drowsiness together. Alcohol, beer, wine and liquor should never be combined with sleeping pills or pain relievers. Over the counter drugs can interact with antibiotics or with prescription pain relievers to cause potentially bad reactions. Some antibiotics can even neutralize some birth control pills. Grape fruit juice can make some sedatives or pain relievers work less well than normal. Check with your medical doctor or dentist as soon as possible before combining any drugs.
9. What to do if a temporary crown falls off. This is important for two reasons. First the tooth could get contaminated by germs and plaques and get sensitive or develop more decay. And even more important, the temporary crown is designed to hold the tooth in its proper place. If the temporary crown comes off for more than a few hours, the tooth can shift so that the new crown made by the dentist might not fit properly. That would be very bad and might require a whole new crown to be made so if your crown comes off you must get it back on immediately. The best thing to do is to go back to the dentist to get it re-cemented so bring the old temporary crown with you. In the meantime, put it back in yourself. If it stays, then chew on the other side and get into the dentist as soon as you can. If it is loose, you can use some denture adhesive cream to hold it in. This is a product that can be found in drug stores and is used by people with false teeth. It is sticky so it will hold the temporary crown, but it does not set and become hard so it is easy to use and cannot be messed up. Just put a little of the denture adhesive cream in the temporary crown and place it back on the tooth and gently bite down to be sure that it is in proper position.
10. Broken or tooth knocked out. The first thing is to save the broken part of the tooth in case it can be used in the repair of the damaged tooth. Keep it moist as above. With chipped teeth the situation is more complicated. If your child is experiencing pain or sensitivity in the affected tooth, see a dentist immediately as this indicates that the tooth nerve may be injured. The dentist can perform a root canal or other necessary procedure to save the tooth. Afterwards, a porcelain crown or bonding material can be sculpted onto the tooth to replace the lost portion.
If there is no pain or sensitivity, the situation is not as critical. You should call your dentist to double check, but in most cases, you can simply schedule a future appointment.
11. If an orthodontic wire or brace breaks or comes off. Professional help is needed to fix or replace broken or loose braces or wires or the teeth may not move correctly. That requires a dental visit. Until then, you can cover the broken or sharp wire or brace with some dental wax or try and remove the loose end of the broken part.