When Emergency Dental Treatment Is Necessary

When Emergency Dental Treatment Is Necessary

You always hope you’ll never need it, but sometimes emergency dental treatment is a necessity. Do you know what constitutes an emergency?

At Kiran Rapal, DDS, Inc. in Saratoga, California, Dr. Rapal and her staff understand that dental emergencies can be both painful and frightening. That’s why they use state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment tools to restore their patients’ oral health. Here’s what you need to know about dental emergencies and what you can do to help save your teeth.

What constitutes a dental emergency?

As a rule, anything that needs prompt attention can be considered a dental emergency. You might not equate a simple toothache with the seriousness of a knocked-out tooth, but tooth pain is often a warning sign of a deeper problem, such as decay or an infection. Left untreated, not only will the pain increase, but also, more importantly, you could be putting your teeth and gums at risk. A call to Dr. Rapal ASAP is warranted; she can advise you as to whether you need to come right in.

Signs of a dental emergency

There are a number of signs you have a dental emergency. Here are four.

1. Loose tooth

Teeth that come loose are one of the most common dental emergencies. In adults, they’re usually caused by trauma, such as from a fall or a hit during contact sports, or by periodontal disease. In children, loose teeth most commonly happen during sports.

You can try to lightly push the loose tooth back into its socket with your tongue, but don’t otherwise touch it; motion usually makes things worse. And never, ever, try to pull the tooth yourself, even if you think that’s what Dr. Rapal would do. It only leads to more pain and an increased infection risk from an improper tooth extraction.

Dr. Rapal usually treats loose teeth caused by trauma with a splint. Splints bind the loose tooth to the surrounding, sturdy teeth and hold it steady until the root heals and anchors itself to the socket. However, if the tooth is seriously damaged or beyond repair, she may send you to an oral surgeon to extract it. There can be multiple reasons for a loose tooth.

2. Knocked-out permanent tooth

If one of your permanent teeth gets knocked out, it’s not only a dental emergency, but you also need to see Dr. Rapal within an hour of the injury to save it. It’s more than likely the tooth sustained root damage and needs immediate care.

Take the following steps:

  1. Pick the tooth up by the crown; don’t touch the root.
  2. Rinse the tooth very gently with water to clean it, but don’t scrub or remove any tissue attached.
  3. Place the tooth gently back into the socket if you can, and bite down on some gauze to hold it in place until you reach our office.
  4. If you can’t replace the tooth, put it between your cheek and gum, or in some milk.
  5. Call Dr. Rapal to let her know you’re on your way.

If Dr. Rapal can’t reinsert the tooth, she’ll talk with you about restoration options so you won’t have a gap.

3. Severe mouth or tooth pain

Generally, a broken or chipped tooth, crown, or veneer isn't a dental emergency. As long as you’re not in pain or bleeding, you can make an appointment with Dr. Rapal for the following day. She may be able to use a tooth-colored dental resin to restore the tooth’s integrity.

However, if the gums around your tooth are bleeding, if the tooth radiates intense pain or is causing injury to the inside of your mouth, you have a dental emergency. The pain often is an indicator of an irritated or dying nerve or an infection of the tooth or surrounding gums. Dr. Rapal may need to send you to an endodontist for a root canal, or a periodontist or oral surgeon for gum surgery.

4. Oral infection or abscess

An abscess is an infected, pus-filled pocket that forms around a tooth root. It requires immediate attention, as it can be life-threatening. Oral infections don’t exist in a vacuum; they have the ability to impact your overall health, including your cardiac health. Dr. Rapal can refer you to an endodontist who’ll open the tooth and allow the abscess to drain.

If you have a dental emergency, or you aren’t sure, give Kiran Rapal, DDS, Inc. a call at 408-864-7010, and our office staff can tell you what you need to do. If you have a non-urgent issue, you can book your appointment online.

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