If you’ve gotten smacked in the face, fallen down and hit your mouth, or been in an accident that involved facial trauma, you might end up with a dental emergency. Your teeth can be uniquely vulnerable.
At Margaret Culotta-Norton, DDS, PC, in Washington, DC, Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc provide emergency dentistry services to help if you experience a problem that requires immediate attention.
Recognizing a dental emergency
A dental emergency is anything that needs instant or near-immediate care. Not all emergencies are the same. Some might need the attention of a dentist or an ER doctor right away, while others might wait until morning or even a few days. It all depends on the severity of the injury or issue and how much pain you’re in. Common dental emergencies include:
- Braces or wires issues
- Broken or chipped teeth
- Crowns or fillings that are loose or lost
- Dislodged (extruded) teeth
- Knocked-out teeth
- Objects stuck between the teeth
- Soft-tissue injuries to the cheeks, gums, lips, or tongue
- Toothaches ranging from mild but constant to severe and acute
A mild toothache or a lost filling can be treated at home until you can get to a dentist. An abscess or chipped tooth needs care sooner rather than later. A knocked out or extruded tooth needs to be seen immediately.
There are some things you can do at home if you want to wait and see your regular dentists in office hours:
Lost fillings and crowns
A filling or crown that has come loose or fallen out will need a dentist to repair it when possible, but you can pack the site of an empty filling with sugarless gum or use dental cement to stick the crown back on temporarily.
A mild tooth sensitivity can be addressed with mouthwash and maybe an over-the-counter painkiller. A bad toothache is probably caused by an infection, an abscess, or an impaction, and you need to call your dentist as soon as you can.
Emergency dental care
Severely damaged or infected teeth mean you need to reach your dentist’s after-hours line or a dentist who has emergency hours, and say you have a dental emergency.
If a tooth got knocked out, prepare a bowl of warm tap water and a cup of milk. Pick the tooth up by the crown to rinse it in the bowl gently for less than 10 seconds, then place it in the milk and take it to the dentist. If you don’t have milk, you can put the tooth in your mouth and hold it there. Don’t suck on it or swallow it.
Are you having a dental crisis? Don’t panic. Get in touch with Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and her team by calling 202-833-1111, or visit the contact page for more information.