Dental emergencies can take several forms. Maybe you trip down the stairs at work and crack your tooth all of a sudden, or maybe an uncomfortable sensation in your mouth has gradually built up to a searing pain that can no longer be ignored. Whatever your personal situation is, you need a trustworthy emergency dentist who can see you NOW instead of telling you about an opening in two weeks. At RiverPlace Dental, Dr. McInnis is dedicated to being this professional for patients in need in the Portland, OR area – just contact us today!
Here are some of the most common situations that our team sees and would consider urgent:
If you have a bad toothache, try flossing and rinsing your mouth thoroughly. The discomfort may be being caused by a stray piece of food or some other foreign object stuck in place. If you’ve done this and the pain isn’t letting up, don’t hesitate to contact our office.
If you’ve broken your tooth, gather up any big dislodged pieces and plan to bring them with you to our practice. If you experience facial swelling, which is common in this type of situation, using a cold compress can help reduce it.
If you’ve lost your tooth, rinse the crown portion carefully (without touching the tissues and root) and then try to place it back into its original socket. If this can’t be done, other good options are holding the tooth in your cheek or carrying it in a container of milk. Don’t wait to contact us if you’re hoping to save it, as the window of time for this to happen is very limited.
While you can’t ever avoid the possibility of dental emergencies entirely, there are ways to reduce your odds over time. Here are some helpful tips for how to do that:
Since dental emergencies are not relatively common, it can be difficult to know exactly what you should do when they occur. Over the years, Dr. Megan McInnis has gotten numerous questions at her practice regarding dental emergencies, which is precisely why she’s included a detailed FAQ section on the subject on her website. We encourage you to take a look through them below if you have questions regarding dental emergencies, or simply give us a call at your earliest convenience!
The only time you should consider going to the emergency room is if you’ve broken your jaw or you’re experiencing severe bleeding that will not stop. Unfortunately, most hospitals cannot treat common dental emergencies in the same way that a dentist can. This is largely because the doctors and workers in the emergency room are not trained to perform dental services. If you’ve experienced one of the dental emergencies listed above, you are better off giving us a call and scheduling an appointment that way.
It’s unlikely that a simple toothache could be lethal, but what can be lethal is an infection. Infections can develop in teeth when bacteria enter the inner area of the tooth where the pulp lies. Keep in mind untreated infections on their own can be deadly, but an infection so close to the brain is even more serious. While there’s no way to know for sure if your toothache is caused by infection until you get to our office, it’s better to play it safe rather than assume the discomfort will go away.
When choosing painkillers, always opt for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. This includes ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, two OTC drugs that work well against tooth pain. This is because they are designed to reduce inflammation in affected areas of the mouth. Stay away from aspirin as when it comes into contact with your tooth or gum tissue, it can actually cause a burning sensation.
In most cases, you should be calling our office right away when a dental emergency occurs. The longer you go without seeking professional treatment, the more likely your condition may worsen. The main exception for not visiting our office right away is when a tooth is only minorly chipped and it doesn’t cause any pain. If this is the case, it’s more than likely that you can wait until regular business hours to pay us a visit.
Outside of regular at-home oral care, routine visits to our office, and keeping a balanced diet free of very hard foods, you should take note of your current habits and lifestyle to determine if you’re at higher risk than the average person. For example, through routine checkups, we can confirm if you suffer from a condition known as bruxism. Characterized by jaw clenching and grinding, bruxism can dramatically increase your risk for cracking or chipping a tooth. Just like how you would wear a mouthguard while playing contact sports, you should wear a nightguard to protect yourself from bruxism, which is more common while you sleep.