They strike at the worst time, when you are least prepared. They can render you unable to work, or they can ruin a carefree relaxing afternoon. Of course, we are talking about the dreaded dental emergency. One minute you are peacefully enjoying your lunch. The next minute, you are in excruciating pain and searching for an emergency dentist near Reidsville. Don’t worry, Drs. Hatcher, Merrell and Santiago are here to get you out of pain and back to smiling.
Dental clinic vs private practice
Triad Dentistry is located in Greensboro, NC, just minutes from Durham, Reidsville, Eden, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Mebane, Charlotte, and other area communities. We offer emergency services, regardless of whether you are currently a patient. However, we understand that emergencies rarely happen at convenient times or places, and it might take a little while to get to our office. Here we offer some guidance for immediate steps to control pain and minimize the damage.
General dental emergencies
For all types of dental emergencies:
- The first thing you should do in any dental emergency is call us at (336) 383-1482
- If you take pain relievers, follow package directions. Do not take more than the recommended dosage. Additionally, never try to use an oral medication topically (i.e. don’t hold an aspirin against your gums), because doing so can cause burns. For topical relief, you can use clove oil or a product such as Orajel.
- An ice pack or cold compress placed on the outside of the cheek or jaw can help control swelling. If you need to improvise, a bag of frozen peas or corn will make an excellent ice pack. Always wrap ice or frozen items with a towel, because freezing temperatures can damage skin.
- For bleeding, apply pressure to the area using dental gauze, a teabag, or something similarly soft and sterile. If you are bleeding heavily and uncontrollably, you should go to a hospital emergency room right away.
- Keep any pieces of the tooth that you can find. Rinse them gently and place them in a clean container. Don’t forget to bring the container with you when you visit our office.
- Apply pressure or a cold compress to the area as needed.
- Avoid hot or cold beverages, as extreme temperature can worsen pain. If you need to eat, choose something soft or liquified.
- See a dentist right away.
- Don’t touch any soft tissue that is still attached to the tooth. Handle it very carefully, only touching the crown, which is the portion of a tooth normally visible above the gumline.
- If the tooth is dirty, rinse it very gently in tepid water. Be careful, because a forceful stream of water can harm soft tissues. Rinse your mouth gently with tepid water if needed.
- Try to re-insert the tooth in its socket, being careful that you don’t get it backwards. Do not use force.
- If the tooth won’t go back in its socket, place it in your mouth between your gums and the inside of your cheek. Avoid moving that side of your mouth, so as to minimize any tissue disturbance. Alternately, you can place the tooth in a clean container and cover it with milk.
- See a dentist immediately, ideally within one hour.
- Attempt to bend the broken wire away from soft tissue. This can be difficult with your finger, but a pencil eraser or something similar works well.
- You may be able to trim the wire with clippers or a small pair of blunt scissors. Please do not attempt this unless the wire is located where you can easily access it without causing injury.
- Use orthodontic wax to cover the wire, making it less sharp.
- See a dentist or orthodontist have your braces repaired. Even if you wear clear aligners, you will need to find out if you should replace the aligner or if you should move on to the next one in the series.
- Rinse your mouth and take steps to control bleeding.
- If there is no bleeding, or if it subsides quickly, treatment might not be needed.
- For excessive bleeding, or a soft tissue wound that does not heal promptly, see a dentist or doctor.
- Keep the restoration or any pieces that you can find. If it can’t be replaced on your tooth, bring it to the office with you.
- If you have lost a dental crown, you may be able to temporarily secure it using over-the-counter temporary dental cement, denture adhesive, or petroleum jelly. Chewing gum will work as well but be certain that it is sugar-free.
- For a lost filling, you can use over-the-counter temporary dental cement to cover the area and reduce sensitivity.
- Never use super-glue to reattach a crown or for any other oral application.
- This may not be an emergency unless you are in severe pain. However, you need to see a dentist promptly for a replacement.
- A sudden toothache may be caused by food or an object lodged between teeth. Try flossing and rinsing your mouth.
- If the pain is intermittent, pay attention to triggers, which are usually heat, cold, or pressure. Adjust your eating habits accordingly until you see a dentist.
- Look for wounds, swollen areas, or signs of infection on the gums in that area of your mouth. A toothache can be a symptom of an abscess (infection pocket), which requires immediate treatment.
- Tooth pain may or may not be an emergency, depending on the cause and severity. A one-time toothache that resolves quickly is not usually a cause for concern. Chronic or recurring pain doesn’t need emergency treatment if it is mild, but you should schedule an examination because it is a sign that something is wrong. If you have signs of abscess or intolerable pain, seek immediate care.
The only good emergency is the one that never happens. This is one of many reasons to visit our office regularly for cleaning and other preventive care. Often, unexpected dental problems are not sudden at all, but rather the culmination of gradually deteriorating oral health.
For example, a small cavity will be painless. When it gets a little bigger the tooth might become sensitive because the layers protecting the nerve are thinner. Then one day the weakened tooth breaks, or the decay reaches the center of the tooth, exposing the nerve and causing excruciating pain. This type of situation can be easily avoided with good hygiene, regular checkups, and early treatment if a problem does develop.
Another common cause of emergencies is traumatic injury. This might seem unavoidable. After all, you never anticipate falling down the stairs or being in a car crash. However, those situations are not leading causes of oral injuries. One of the most common reasons for broken teeth, lacerations, knocked out teeth, and similar injuries is sports-related accidents. Never underestimate the importance of mouthguards and other protective gear if you or your child plays contact sports. A custom-made mouthguard from your dentist will fit better, be more comfortable, and offer greater protection.
How to be prepared for a dental emergency
You probably have first aid kits in your home and vehicle. They might be stacked with bandages, antiseptic, burn cream, and other supplies for immediate treatment of common injuries. However, many first aid kits are lacking important supplies for dental emergencies. We recommend keeping a few essentials on hand, so that you will be ready for the unexpected.
- Sterile gauze or cotton balls (used to apply pressure to a bleeding wound)
- Clove oil or Orajel (topical pain relief that can be used inside the mouth)
- Orthodontic wax (for coating broken brace wires)
- Temporary dental cement or denture adhesive (for securing loose restorations)
- Cold compress (used to control swelling)
In an emergency – call us first
If you are experiencing a dental emergency, please do not hesitate to call for guidance and to arrange urgent care. We are here for you when you need us.