Procedures
Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies are quite frightening and often painful.  Prompt treatment is almost always required to alleviate pain and to ensure the teeth have the best possible chance of survival.

Sometimes, teeth become fractured by trauma, grinding, or biting on hard objects.  In other cases, fillings, crowns, and other restorative devices can be damaged or fall out of the mouth completely.  If there is severe pain, it is essential to contact our office immediately.  The pain caused by dental emergencies almost always gets worse without treatment, and dental issues can seriously jeopardize physical health.

Types of dental emergency and how to deal with them


Avulsed tooth (tooth knocked out)

If a tooth has been knocked clean out of the mouth, it is essential to see a dentist immediately.  When a tooth exits the mouth, tissues, nerves, and blood vessels become damaged.  If the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.

Here are some steps to take:

  1. Call our office @ 616-942-7050.  after hours:  616-540-4386.
  2. Pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse away any dirt with water.  DO NOT touch the root.
  3. If possible, place it back into its socket – if not tuck it into the cheek pouch.
  4. If the tooth cannot be placed in the mouth, put the tooth into a cup of milk, saliva, or water as a last resort.  It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.
  5. Get to our office, quickly and safely.  DON'T FORGET THE TOOTH!

We will try to replace the tooth in its natural socket and splint it for stability.   In most cases, the tooth will reattach.  In nearly every case, the tooth will require root canal therapy at a later date.


Lost filling or crown

Usually, a crown or filling comes loose while eating.  Once it is out of the mouth, the affected tooth may be incredibly sensitive to temperature changes and pressure.  Crowns generally become loose because the tooth beneath is decaying and or the cement seal is lost. 

If a crown has dropped out of the mouth, make a dental appointment as soon as possible.  Keep the crown in a cool, safe place (ziploc bag)because there is a possibility that we can recement it.  If the crown is out of the mouth for a long period of time, the teeth may shift or sustain further damage.

When we are not immediately accessible, here are the steps to take:

  1. Apply clove oil to the tooth to alleviate pain.
  2. Clean the crown, and affix it onto the tooth with over the counter dental cement or tooth paste.  This can be purchased at a local pharmacy.
  3. If the crown is lost, smear the top of the tooth with dental cement to alleviate discomfort.
  4. DO NOT use any kind of glue to affix the crown.

We will check the crown to see if it still fits.  If it does, it will be recemented.   When decay is discovered, a new crown will be made.


Cracked or broken teeth

The teeth are strong, but they are still prone to fractures, cracks, and breaks.  Sometimes fractures are fairly painless, but if the crack extends down into the root, it is likely that the pain will be extreme.  Fractures, cracks, and breaks can take several different forms, but are generally caused by trauma, grinding, and biting.  If a tooth has been fractured or cracked, there is no alternative but to schedule an appointment as quickly as possible.

Where a segment of tooth has been broken off, here are some steps that can be taken at home:

  1. Call our office.
  2. Rinse the tooth fragment and the mouth with lukewarm water.
  3. Apply gauze to the area for ten minutes if there is bleeding.
  4. Place a cold, damp dishtowel on the cheek to minimize swelling and pain.
  5. Cover the affected area with over-the-counter dental cement if you cannot see us immediately.
  6.  

The fracture will limit what we are able to do.  If a fracture or crack extends into the root, root canal therapy is often the most effective way to retain the tooth.  Vertical fractures are very difficult to treat and therefore lead to implant replacement of the hopeless tooth.


Dislodged/loose teeth

When a tooth has been dislodged or loosened from its socket by trauma or decay, it might be possible to save it.  If you can bite down normally and the tooth seems like it is in its "normal" position, it will usually reattach and not need splinting.  It may still need root canal treatment at a later date if symptoms or signs of trauma present.

It is important to call our office immediately to make an appointment.  In the meantime, use a cold compress and over-the-counter medications to relieve pain  ( ibuprophen if it can be tolerated).

If you have questions or concerns about dental emergencies, please contact our office.



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