A dental emergency is always a stressful situation, but it can become absolutely nerve-racking when your dentist is out of the office. Whether it’s late Saturday night and your dentist won’t be back in until Monday, or if your dentist is out of the country on 2-week vacation, a dental emergency can be difficult to manage on your own. There are some basic things that you can do to prevent or cope with dental emergencies when they occur.
The best way to handle a potential dental emergency is to avoid it in the first place. The most common dental emergency is pain or swelling from an infected tooth. In most cases, this does not happen suddenly, overnight. Typically, a person has some degree of pain or discomfort for several days or even longer before they are in severe pain and in need of emergency dental care. The best advice is to visit the dentist at the first sign of any discomfort in the teeth or gums.
If a dental emergency does occur when your dentist is unavailable, there are several things that you can do. Pain in the teeth or gums can often be temporarily handled with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®), to be taken as directed. Rinsing with warm salt water (a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water) can help temporarily relieve puffy or swollen cheeks and gums. Some-store bought products like Orajel® can also be effective in relieving minor soreness of the gums. If you have a broken tooth, a piece of wax or even some soft chewing gum can cover a sharp edge until you can get to the dentist.
Your dentist should also be available for advice if a dental emergency occurs. Thanks to cell phones and answering services, patients can often reach us after office hours. This gives us the ability to contact the pharmacy for antibiotics and pain medication should they feel that patients need them. If your dentist is going to be out of the office for more than a few days, call us to treat any dental emergencies that may occur.
When you have diabetes, you may take a number of medications. Any of these medications may cause you dry mouth. In addition to being uncomfortable, dry mouth can cause bad breath, sore tongue or throat, and trouble chewing, speaking, or swallowing.
If you wear dentures, you might notice a difference in the way the dentures fit when your mouth is dry. Poorly fitting dentures can cause mouth sores, which may heal more slowly because of your diabetes.
If you have diabetes, you also may be more likely to get new cavities or to develop cavities under fillings you already have. Brushing your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste that has fluoride and cleaning between your teeth once a day may help lower the risk of getting cavities. Fluoride is also important. It strengthens teeth and helps prevent cavities.
Our dentistry is more than just beautiful smiles. Your eyes may be the window to your soul, but your mouth is the gateway to your body. It’s important to your global health.
We are oral physicians who know that ‘people who keep their teeth live an average of ten years longer than people who lose their teeth’ – Charles Mayo, MD. Think about that. You will live 10 years longer with your teeth or implanted teeth because of the changes in your eating habits.
90% of systemic diseases have oral manifestations. (AGD, 2002) One of the leading causes of teeth loss is due to periodontal disease and 75% roughly the same number of Americans (73%) who would rather go grocery shopping than floss have some form of periodontal gum disease. Periodontal infections have been linked to a host of serious diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease, low-birth weight babies, Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated aging and more.
Gum infection and disease is a serious health risk. But you can prevent gum disease with proper oral health care. And yet, gum disease is often neglected for years and years because the infection is out of sight and usually persists with no pain.
So what are the solutions for this problem? Keep your teeth! Come see us regularly. Realize that you will not be able to detect problems yourself until they are severe, whether cavities or gum disease. Compliment your dental visits by simply brushing and flossing your teeth well.
You should see your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups at least every six months. There are those who are at greater risk for oral diseases and other related health issues that should have dental cleanings and check-ups more than twice a year, such as, diabetes, periodontal (gum) disease, possible heart disease, pregnancies and in rare instances alcohol and tobacco users. Poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that your dentist takes into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning and check-ups. One of the real problems that has invaded oral healthcare are the restrictions placed on insurance coverage by insurers. You need to understand that insurance companies serve a self-interest in reducing the number to times you visit your dentist. Try not to let what your insurance covers be your benchmark for your healthcare.
Going on a regular basis will help to keep your oral health on track as well as detect any early problems such as periodontal disease, oral cancer or cavities. The best way to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist on a regular basis coupled with brushing your teeth and drinking fluoridated water.
And like I always say ‘the best toothbrush is the one you use’. So please, if we can help feel free to call us.