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661-945-2733

Alan L. Stott, DDS

Emergency Dentistry

Broken Tooth

Emergency Dentist Lancaster, CA

Dental emergencies are no fun. Emergencies can be a broken front tooth, an abscessed tooth, or pain in the gums. We are glad to help you with your dental emergencies, but there are some emergencies we cannot take care of during off-hours without a full staff present. So, please call us during office hours as soon as you notice a problem so we can get you in quickly. If one of our patients has a dental emergency when the office is closed, call our office phone number and it will direct you to the doctor’s home phone or to someone on call if the doctor is out of town.

What is a dental emergency?

Basically, dental emergencies are any dental problem that requires immediate treatment in order to save a tooth, stop ongoing tissue bleeding, or alleviate severe pain. If you have any questions, call the dental office for advice.

True dental emergencies that require immediate attention by a dentist include:

A knocked out or displaced tooth, a painful broken or fractured tooth, a painful toothache, a severe tooth or gum infection or abscess, severe bleeding or cuts in or around the mouth, severe pain and swelling around wisdom teeth, severe swelling under the eye, on the cheek, or under the jaw, or a broken jaw. (See more details below.)

Non-emergency urgent dental problems that should be evaluated by a dentist soon but can wait a few days include:

Beginning or moderate pain in the gum or teeth, a small chip off a tooth, slight bleeding, loose temporary dental crown, permanent dental crown, or porcelain veneer, sore denture or denture with a front tooth missing, lost filling, objects stuck in between the teeth, or problems with orthodontic braces. (See more details below.)  

When should I have a dental emergency problem looked at?

It is best to contact the dental office as soon as you can so you can get scheduled for an evaluation of the dental problem. If the dental problem is a true emergency (like mentioned above, they will get you in ASAP. If the condition is not a dental emergency, they will get you in at your convenience. If the problem occurs after normal working hours, give the dentist a call at home to see what you should do. Remember, all dental problems are best treated when our office is open during normal business hours. This is when we can quickly treat you with a full staff, the needed dental equipment is set up, and we can contact your insurance company by phone with any financial questions.

If I have a dental emergency, can I wait until after I get off work or on the weekend to be seen?

If it is a true dental emergency as mentioned above, you need to have it seen ASAP and not wait until the evening or weekend. Call the dental office as soon as possible so you can be seen right away. They will advise you of the urgency of the problem. Most dental offices are not open evenings or weekends. Your dentist can take care of some true dental emergencies after normal office hours but it will take about 4 times more time due to not having trained staff present or the proper equipment set up. Without dental staff to help, there are some emergency treatments, like surgical tooth extractions, we cannot do after normal hours. Also, most offices will charge an additional after-hours fee for work done in the evening or on weekends. An additional problem with after-hours emergencies is we cannot use your insurance plan to cover your dental treatment if we cannot verify your insurance coverage. (Insurance companies are closed after normal working hours.)

Can I have my dental emergency taken care of at the local hospital emergency room?

Usually most hospital emergency rooms (ER’s) cannot take care of dental emergencies. They can give a patient an antibiotic for infection or some medication for pain. But, they are not trained and equipped to fix most dental problems. And, you know how long the wait is in a hospital ER.

 

Dental Emergencies

 

Does a knocked-out or displaced tooth need to be seen right away?

Yes. The dentist has a limited time to place the tooth back into the proper position and attach it with a wire. Ideally, the tooth will be replaced in its socket within 60 minutes.

What can a person do on his or her own for a knocked-out or displaced tooth?

 

If it is a baby tooth, do not try to replace it. (If a child is involved, a parent should do the following.) If it is an adult tooth and it has been knocked out, hold the tooth by the crown, not the root, rinse the tooth briefly with water. Try to rinse off any dirt or debris. Be sure to place a washcloth over the drain so the tooth cannot fall down the drain. Do not scrub the tooth or try to remove the pieces of tissue attached to the root. These are needed for bone reattachment.  It is important not to let the tooth dry out. If possible, place the tooth back in socket. Try to get the correct side to the front by comparing with the other matching tooth in the mouth. If it is backwards, it probably cannot be seated all the way. If you cannot reseat the tooth, have the person hold the tooth under his or her tongue. (You can’t do this if the person is real young.) If under the tongue will not work, place the tooth in a glass of milk (best) or water and take it to the dentist ASAP. If the tooth is just displaced forward or backward or out of the socket slightly, try to realign it with the other teeth. A displaced tooth may have a root fracture that we cannot see without an x-ray. Seek dental help. 

 

What will the dentist do with a knocked-out or displaced tooth?

He will be sure the tooth is clean and replace it in the tooth socket. He may have to numb the area to do this. He then will attach a wire to the displaced tooth and the teeth on both sides of the displaced tooth to stabilize it. He will have follow-up visits to check the vitality of the tooth.

What will happen to a knocked-out or displaced tooth that has been replaced in the mouth?

With a young person and a not yet fully developed front tooth, the tooth may heal fine and remain vital. With a person 10 and over and a fully 

developed root, the nerve may die or abscess, requiring a root canal treatment. Sometimes the bone does not develop correctly around the root of a replaced tooth. If that happens, the tooth becomes ankylosed or fused to the surrounding bone. The body may then start resorbing the root of the tooth, leading to the eventual loss of the tooth.

Does a broken or fractured tooth need to be seen right away?

It depends. If it is a small fracture or chip in the tooth, that can wait until you can get an appointment with the dentist. If it real painful, the nerve may be exposed and it is best to be seen right away. If it is a real esthetic concern with a front broken tooth, that needs to be seen right away. If the broken tooth is a back tooth and is not real painful, this can wait until you can get an appointment with the dentist.

What can a person do on his or her own with a broken or fractured tooth?

If there is some mild to moderate pain, you can take over- the-counter pain medication. If there are sharp edges on the part of the tooth in the mouth that are cutting your tongue, you can get some dental wax from the pharmacy and place that over the sharp areas.

 How will a dentist repair a broken or fractured tooth?

If the broken tooth is in the front and it is an esthetic concern, the dentist will bond on some tooth colored plastic and shape it to match the original tooth form. He may also need to place a temporary crown on the broken tooth until a permanent crown can be made. If the broken tooth is a back tooth, he may do the same thing as with a front tooth, but the situation is not as critical since it is not real visible from the front. If the tooth is painful and the tooth nerve has been exposed, he may have to start some root canal treatment.

Does a painful tooth need to be seen right away?

It depends on the severity of the pain. If the tooth is not real painful, the patient can wait until he or she can conveniently see the dentist. If the tooth is real painful, it ought to be seen as soon as possible. The goal for the patient should be to not wait until a tooth ache is really bad before seeking dental care. An even better goal is to have your teeth examined yearly to catch any potential dental problems early.

What can a person do on his or her own with a painful tooth?

You can take over-the-counter pain medication. If there is a hole in the tooth and air, liquids, or foods cause pain, you can get some dental wax from the pharmacy and place it in the hole. You may also try some temporary dental paste or cement from the pharmacy. Mix it according to the instructions and push it in the hole.

How will a dentist treat a painful tooth?

The painful tooth may be due to deep decay, a fracture, an exposed tooth nerve or infection in the gum around the tooth. The treatment may include placing a filling, preparing the tooth for a dental crown, providing some root canal treatment, or treating an infection in the tooth or gum. If the tooth is really bad, it may have to be extracted.

Does a severe tooth or gum infection or abscess need to be seen right away?

It depends on the severity. If the tooth or gum is very painful and there is a lot of swelling present, it ought to be seen right away. If the pain or swelling is mild, it can wait until you can conveniently see your dentist.

What can a person do on his or her own for a badly infected or abscessed tooth or gum?

About the only thing you can do is take some over-the-counter pain medication and gently keep the area rinsed and clean. Tooth or gum swelling and abscesses will not go away until the source of the infection is removed.

What is the treatment for a tooth or gum infection or abscess in the dental office?

If the infection if from an abscessed tooth, the tooth will either need root canal treatment or extraction. If the infection is from a gum abscess, the area will need to be numbed and cleaned out. Often antibiotics will be prescribed.

Do bleeding or cuts in or around the mouth need to be seen right away?

It depends on the cause of the bleeding or cuts, and the severity. If it due to some heavy trauma or injury to the mouth that is bleeding a lot or if it leaves an open wound, that is an emergency situation. If the cut is deep and leaves an open wound (like a badly cut lip or tongue), that may need sutures. If the bleeding or cut is caused by a sharp piece of food, a poke by a hard object, by a bite from the patient’s own teeth, or by a recent extraction site, and does not leave an open wound, you can probably do something at home to stop the bleeding. (See the next question.)

What can a person on his or her own do for bleeding or cuts in or around the mouth?

If it is mild bleeding or a minor cut due to a sharp piece of food, a poke by a hard object, a bite by the patient’s teeth, or a recent extraction site, place a piece of gauge over the area and bite on it for 30 minutes. The use of gauze can be repeated a couple of times. The bleeding should stop by then.

What can the dentist do for bleeding or cuts in or around the mouth?

If the bleeding is due to a sharp piece of food, a poke by a hard object, a bite by the patient’s own teeth, or a recent extraction site, he will do what the patient would do- place some gauze over the area and have the patient bite down for 30 minutes. If there are some severe cuts in the mouth with open wounds, he would numb the area and suture the wound. He would also search for the source of the bleeding. If there is heavy facial or mouth trauma, he may have to refer the patient to an oral surgeon or the ER.

What can be done for severe swelling and pain around wisdom teeth (3rd molars)?

The wisdom teeth need to be removed, preferably all at the same time. Most people do not have room to keep their wisdom teeth. Until they can be removed, use over-the-counter pain medication and avoid traumatizing the area by eating only soft foods. Until the wisdom tooth can be removed, the dentist may only be able to prescribe pain medication and antibiotic.

Does severe swelling under the eyes, on the cheeks, or around the jaw need to be seen right away?

Yes. The swelling is often an abscess due to an infected tooth or infected gum. It may also be due to trauma or a broken jaw.

What can a person do on his or her own with swelling under an eye, on a cheek, or around the jaw?

The patient can take pain medication and call his or her dentist. If the swelling is severe and/or due to some severe trauma, he or she should see an oral surgeon or go to the ER.

What will the dentist do for swelling under an eye, on a cheek, or under the jaw?

If it is dental or mouth related, the dentist will look for the source of the swelling. It may be an abscessed tooth or gum requiring drainage and an antibiotic.  It may be a tooth needing root canal treatment. It may be a broken jaw or facial trauma requiring the services of an oral surgeon or ER.

Does a broken jaw need to be seen right away?

Yes. It is best to go to the ER. They would call a plastic surgeon or oral surgeon. They will have to reposition the broken parts of the jaw under general anesthesia and secure them with wires or screws.

 

Non-Emergency Urgent Dental Problems

 

What needs to be done with beginning and moderate pain in the teeth or gums?

The patient can call his or her dental office and seek treatment at a convenient time. The dentist will look for the source of the pain. It could be decay, an infected tooth or gum, a fractured tooth, a cut in the gum, gum disease, or a canker sore.  

 

What needs to be done with a small chip off of a tooth?

Usually this is not a true dental emergency. If it is a big chip, you will want to be seen as soon as possible.

 

What needs to be done with slight bleeding around the teeth or gums?

Usually this is not a true dental emergency. It could be caused due to biting the lip or tongue, gum disease, or a canker sore. Call the dental office for advice.

 

What needs to be done with a loose temporary crown, permanent crown or porcelain veneer

It is best not to wait too long. If you wait too long, the teeth next to the crown can move, making it very hard to get the temporary or permanent crown back in place. I prefer that patients come in within 24 hours to have the crowns re-cemented. A dentist will use his special dental cements to re-cement the crown back on.  For a loose porcelain veneer, the dentist will re-cement it with permanent cement.  

If you can’t be seen in a dental office right away, you can try some of the temporary cement or denture adhesive gel found at the pharmacy. Practice trying in the crown to be sure it will go in right. Mix up the temporary cement or get the denture adhesive ready. Apply just a small amount to the walls on the inside of the dried crown. Wipe the tooth with gauze to dry it and place the crown on the tooth. Use gauze to wipe off any extra material from the sides. Be sure you can bite normally. Call your dentist for further instructions. It is not really possible for the patient to put a porcelain veneer back in place with temporary cement.

What needs to be done with a sore denture, a broken denture, or a denture with a missing tooth?

For a sore area under a denture, the denture may have to be adjusted. At home you can place some denture adhesive in the sore area which will provide some cushion until you can see the dentist for a more permanent fix. For a broken denture or lost denture tooth, give the dental office a call early in the day (before 9 am) so they can make arrangements with the dental lab to repair your denture.

What can be done with a lost filling?

This is usually not an emergency situation. Call the dental office and make an appointment at your convenience. If the lost filling is on a front tooth, you may want to get in sooner than later for esthetic reasons.

What needs to be done with objects stuck in between the teeth?

If you can’t floss it out, you may have to have the dentist remove the object at your convenience.

What needs to be done with problems with orthodontic braces?

A general dentist may not be able to help you with problems with your braces. Call your orthodontist.

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