Dental emergencies are alarming, sometimes painful, and can strike at any time.
Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency could be the difference between securing effective care quickly, or risking costly, long-term damage.
Teeth deserve every bit the same amount of care as the rest of the body, especially in the case of an emergency. Having a trusted, skilled dentist on-call can save your smile, and Open Wide La Jolla’s Dr. Chad Dains is here to help.
No charge for your emergency examination during normal business hours at our La Jolla Office. Only pay for any required treatment.
Review the dental insurance we accept.
We’re Here For You
We want to take the stress out of your dental emergency.
If you find yourself in need of emergency dental care, give our La Jolla, CA office a call and we will prepare to see you as quickly as possible. Our office is equipped to handle just about any dental emergency. It’s our goal to stop the pain and set up a treatment plan that will address the issue. In case you need an oral surgeon, we have an excellent network of dental surgeons we can refer you to.
Once your emergency appointment is confirmed, upon arrival you will be greeted with nothing short of sincere compassion and understanding.
Do I Have A Dental Emergency?
It’s not always easy to tell what does and does not constitute a “dental emergency.” There are basic guidelines to help gauge when a visit to an emergency dentist is necessary, but, as with all medical situations, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider.
- Dislodged or Knocked-Out Tooth: The most obvious dental emergency is when a tooth is dislodged, either wholly or in part, and needs to be re-inserted or replaced.
- Dislodged Filling, Crown or Bridge: Fillings are used to replace portions of a tooth due to the removal of cavities or decay. Crowns are used to cap or encircle a tooth that is threatened by severe decay. Bridges are used to replace missing teeth with artificial ones. Damage or loss to any of these are considered an emergency.
- Chipped, Cracked, or Fractured Tooth: Chipped teeth usually do not cause severe pain – if any – and are typically cosmetic in nature, though they still need to be treated. Cracked or fractured teeth present a far more severe situation, and pose an immediate functional and health problem. Typically, there will be severe pain and sensitivity.
- Abscess: A tooth abscess is an extremely severe dental emergency that must be treated quickly. Decay from an untreated cavity causes an infection deep in the root of the tooth, resulting in jaw pain, tooth loss, fever, and more.
- Damage to Oral Tissue: Cuts, tears, or other damage to the cheeks, gums, and tongue can cause severe problems, and should be evaluated by your emergency dentist.
First Aid For Dental Emergencies
We know dental emergencies can be scary and painful. We have some things you can do before you can get to us. Below you will find some temporary solutions you can try at home.
First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. Take a pain reliever such as aspirin, Tylenol, or ibuprofen following the manufacturer’s dosage amount after checking with your physician. You can also try an over-the-counter topical anesthetic with 5% to 20% benzocaine applied every two hours.
CHIPPED OR BROKEN TEETH
Save any pieces. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze or a moistened tea bag to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. Call our office as soon as possible.
Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse off the tooth root with water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it’s not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available). In all cases, call our office as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
EXTRUDED (PARTIALLY DISLODGED) TOOTH
Call our office right away. Until you reach our office, to relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed.
OBJECTS CAUGHT BETWEEN TEETH
First, try using dental floss to very gently and carefully remove the object. Never use a pin or other sharp object to poke at the stuck object. These instruments can cut your gums or scratch your tooth surface.
As a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement. Call our office as soon as possible.
If the crown falls off and you can’t get to our office right away and the tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue!
BROKEN BRACES AND WIRES
If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue, or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can’t reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to our office. Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs.
LOOSE BRACKETS AND BANDS
Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. Call us as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call us as soon as possible.
Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated. Because of the serious oral health and general health problems that can result from an abscess, call us as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that usually is painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.
Injuries to the soft tissues, which include the tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips, can result in bleeding. To control the bleeding, here’s what to do:
- Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution.
- Use a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes.
- To both control bleeding and relieve pain, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen and treated.
For Dental Emergencies, Open Wide La Jolla Is Here
The friendly team at Open Wide La Jolla are happy to assist you every step of the way through your dental emergency.
Dr. Chad Dains provides top-notch emergency care in La Jolla, and can typically accommodate same-day appointments and treatments for his patients. Dr. Dains is committed to getting his patients out of pain quickly, and restoring their oral health to keep them smiling!
If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, don’t wait – contact Open Wide La Jolla today.