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Welcome to the Hu Smiles blog!  We are hoping everyone is staying safe at home and well stocked with toilet paper! 🙂 Hu Smiles wants to let everyone know that we are committed to doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and maintain practice hours to handle dental emergencies for our community. In accordance with the directive from the Department of Health, we are postponing elective procedures for all patients however we are still open for dental emergencies, so don’t hesitate to call!

That brings us to today’s blog post, where Dr Hu wants to address some common questions we get asked often about dental emergencies:

  • “what is a dental emergency?”
  • “what should I do if I have a dental emergency?”
  • “what will happen if I have come in with a dental emergency”
  • “what can I do if my tooth is sensitive but is not an emergency?”

A dental emergency can be one or more of these things:

  • constant, extreme pain. on a scale of 1-10 this would be 6 or higher
  • gum or facial swelling. especially if it has occurred suddenly
  • knocked out or fractured tooth from an accident
  • your permanent crown fell off

If you have any of these things then call your dentist ASAP!

If you have constant, extreme pain or swelling then very likely there is a bacterial infection of the nerves in your tooth.  Even if you do not have this, a sensitivity to cold that lingers more than a minute or an extreme sensitivity to hot or pressure can also indicate a problem with the nerve. If your dentist diagnoses an infected nerve(also called pulpitis) or abscess, then you could need either a root canal or extraction.

If you knock out a tooth, gently pick it up from the top (or crown), and do not touch the roots or bottom of the tooth.  If possible, place the tooth back in its socket or place it in a glass of slightly salted water or cold milk.  If you see a dentist within 30 minutes of knocking out the tooth, they may be able to place it back into your mouth.

If a large part of your tooth fractured, keep it with you in a bag, we may be able to bond it back together.

If a permanent crown came off, gently clean the inside with a toothbrush. You can then use a denture adhesive(Fixadent, Polident) that you can find at the store to temporarily glue it back in. Be very careful with chewing on this side until it can be permanently cemented back in at your dentist! In some cases, a permanent crown that falls off for seemingly no reason can indicate that either decay or infection has snuck in under the crown. If this happens, then you may need a new crown or even a root canal if there is pain or infection associated with the tooth.

Often times other conditions can also cause extreme tooth pain. Other conditions your dentist will check for are the presence of sinus infections or night-time parafunction (grinding or clenching of your teeth).

When you come in for your emergency appointment, your dentist will take an image of the affected area and do a brief examination. Your dentist will then discuss diagnosis of the problem and what your treatment options are.

If your dentist prescribes antibiotics you will find that the swelling and pain will go down within a few days, however this does not mean it is gone. Antibiotics are great for temporary reduction of pain and infection and will allow for more profound anesthesia however expect the infection to come back after the 1 week course. Taking more than 1 week course of antibiotics may also result in higher chance of undesirable side effects.

Any other questions? Don’t hesitate give us a call at 253-277-8767! Our team will give you the best care!