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Online Dental Education Library

This section of our Web site will provide our patients with information they can use before and after their treatment. Right now, if you have a dental emergency or oral concern, review our suggestions and then call us at 908-874-4555. After hours emergency phone numbers are available on our phone system.

When Dental Emergencies and other oral problems occur...
Smiling, kissing, and eating... These are some of the wonderful things for which we need our mouths and teeth! Of course, keeping our mouths and teeth clean and healthy is a major concern, but emergencies can arise. Here are some first aid tips to use before you can get some relief from your DENTIST!

TOOTHACHE HELP
Hopefully this won't ever happen to you, but if it does follow these tips:

  1. Call your dentist as soon as possible for an appointment.
  2. Apply oil of cloves to the affected tooth. You can ask you pharmacist for this.
  3. Apply ice to the affected area.
  4. Take aspirin or an aspirin substitute to ease the pain.

The best treatment is to let your dentist help you right away. Teeth don't heal themselves. Sometimes a person will have a toothache for 2-3 days and it will "go-away". Don't be fooled! The problem is still there. Remember seeing your dentist early can prevent pain, expense and maybe tooth loss!

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LOST FILLING?
See your dentist as soon as you can. Why? The soft inner part of the tooth exposed when a filling is lost can decay quickly! If you can't see a dentist right away, be sure to keep the tooth super clean. If pain should develop, try some aspirin or an aspirin substitute until you see your dentist.

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OOPS - A BROKEN TOOTH!
Most often, a broken tooth is a result of a blow to the face or from chomping on especially hard foods. If you happen to break a tooth, don't panic! See a dentist as soon as possible and if the tooth hurts, take some aspirin or an aspirin substitute. Hot or cold foods and drinks can aggravate the tooth so do avoid them. A broken tooth can be scary and even embarrassing! Get to a dentist quickly.


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WHAT'S CAUSING THE SWELLING?
Swelling can mean many things. Usually, it means a nasty infection. Immediate professional attention is very important. Call your dentist right away!


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OUCH - A DENTURE SORE SPOT!
Your dentist can usually relieve the cause of irritation quite easily. Adjustments after fitting dentures are very common! Until then, a little Ora-base applied to the spot will serve as a bandage if the area is really sore. If your dentures are old and loose, for your sake, don't try to reline them yourself or use denture adhesives. This can make matters worse, so see your dentist for any denture problem!


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OH NO, YOUR CROWN (OR BRIDGE) FELL OFF!
First, check the crown or bridge to see if it's in one piece. If it is, place a thin coat of petroleum jelly inside the crown or bridge. Then, carefully press it back in place. It is important to keep the teeth in their proper position by replacing the crown or bridge immediately. Do not chew on the replaced crown or bridges as it may come off again. This is only a temporary solution. Be sure to call your dentist as soon as you can to have the crown or bridge examined and re-cemented.


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DO YOU HAVE PAIN AROUND YOUR JAW JOINT?
This pain is often related to your teeth. If you are bothered by jaw joint pain, try these temporary solutions:

  1. Eat soft foods.
  2. Use warm, moist towels over the joint area.
  3. Take aspirin or an aspirin substitute for pain.
  4. Avoid talking, chewing and clenching as much as possible!

Be sure to call your dentist for attention. This type of pain requires treatment, which should not be delayed. These symptoms can worsen.


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BROKEN ORTHODONTIC APPLIANCE?
If this should happen to you, place a ball of wax over the broken and/or jagged wires to prevent stabbing the inside of your mouth. Your pharmacist often has this type of wax for these types of emergencies. Call you orthodontist for immediate assistance.


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COLD SORES BOTHERING YOU?
Cold sores are symptoms of a virus and can be awfully painful. As with any virus, these sores run their course in about 7 to 10 days. If these sores appear on or about your lips, keep them moist with some petroleum jelly. Your dentist will be able to help with a new prescription drug especially for these sores. If the sores aren't gone within 7 to 10 days, or worsen, call your dentist!


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HELP FOR TEETHING PAIN
Teething can be a difficult time for babies and mommies! If your child seems to be uncomfortable, apply some Ora-jel to the area where the tooth is erupting. This gel is pleasantly flavored and can be applied directly to the problem area. Time cures this problem, so be patient!


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HELP - MY TOOTH GOT KNOCKED OUT!
First, find the tooth. Immediately after, call your dentist. Then wrap the tooth in clean wet gauze. It's important not to clean the tooth. Cleaning can damage the attachments on the tooth. Success is greatest if you see your dentist within thirty minutes after the accident. The longer you wait, the less possibility of success! Get to your dentist quickly!


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Tooth pain.When you experience pain in your mouth, it's sometimes abundantly clear which tooth is causing it. At other times, the sensation of discomfort is more diffuse, generalized or hard to pinpoint. On occasion, it can even be challenging to determine exactly what problem or combination of problems is causing the symptoms you're experiencing. This may be the case when an infection exists in the root canals of a tooth as well as the gum tissue adjacent to it.

In this situation, the infection may have begun in the pulp of the tooth itself; or, it may have started in the gums. Over time, it has spread from one location to the other — and now it's causing a confusing set of symptoms that are difficult to sort out. Regardless of where the problem started, a thorough analysis will be necessary before treatment can begin, to give you the best chance of saving the tooth.

Confusing Symptoms

Root canal infection leading to gum disease.

From time to time, many people experience oral discomfort that's dull or intermittent. Occasionally, a more insistent pain may be triggered by a stimulus like temperature (from hot or cold foods or beverages) or pressure (from biting down on something). Sometimes, it may feel as though the ache is coming from a group of teeth rather than one single tooth — or even from the sinus area above the back teeth.

These symptoms can indicate a number of dental issues, including root canal and gum problems, and shouldn't be disregarded. However, if you manage to ignore the acute pain, in many cases it will fade in time. But this isn't good news: It generally means that the infected tissue in the pulp of your tooth has died, and the nerve is no longer functioning. That's when the problem may become more serious.

Chicken or Egg?

Gum disease leading to root canal infection.

When the pulp tissue inside your tooth becomes severely infected, it's possible for the disease to move through openings at the end (apex) of the root, and outside of the tooth. It can then spread to the periodontal ligament, which anchors the tooth to the surrounding bone and gum tissue. From there, the infection may extend to the gum tissue and cause periodontal disease, or even result in a painful gum abscess. At that point, you may have pain — even severe pain that will let you know exactly which tooth is affected.

But it's also possible for the infection to be spread by the exact opposite pathway. In this case, an infection that originated in the gums (commonly due to periodontal disease caused by a buildup of plaque) may have has traveled through small passageways called accessory canals, which are located in between a tooth's roots, or on the sides of the roots. The infection can then extend into the tooth's pulp. If your teeth are fractured, it's even easier for disease to spread.

Treatment Methods

When dental problems involves both root canals and gum disease, saving the affected tooth can prove challenging. This is when it matters where the infection started: If it's primarily a root-canal problem that later moved into the gums, the outlook for the tooth is reasonably positive if it receives immediate treatment. If gum disease came first, however, the prospects often aren't as good; by the time the infection has moved into the tooth, it's possible that much bone has already been lost, making the tooth's long-term prognosis poor.

In either case, the cause of the tooth pain will need to be diagnosed and an effective treatment plan developed. The sooner that happens, the better: Root canal and gum problems simply don't get better on their own.

Related Articles

Confusing Tooth Pain - Dear Doctor Magazine

Confusing Tooth Pain It is occasionally difficult to pinpoint the origin of tooth pain, which can result from an infection of the tooth itself, or of the gum, or even spread from one to the other. Nevertheless, it's always important to sort out what's going on so that the right treatment can be selected and the tooth saved... Read Article


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Towne Centre Family Dental and the Implant & Smile Makeover Studio

908-874-4555
419 US-206 Hillsborough Township, NJ 08844