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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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Healthy Tooth.Root canal treatment — also called endodontics (“endo” – inside, “dont” – tooth) — is a set of specialized procedures designed to treat problems of the soft pulp (nerve) tissue inside the tooth. While some mistakenly think of it as an unusually painful treatment, in most cases the procedure is no more uncomfortable than getting a filling. It's actually one of the most effective ways of relieving some kinds of tooth pain.

A root canal procedure becomes necessary when infection or inflammation develops in the pulp tissue of the tooth. Pulp tissue consists of blood vessels, connective tissue and nerve cells — which explains why a problem here may cause you to feel intense pain. In time, the pain may go away... at least temporarily. Without treatment, however, the infection won't. It can lead to a dental abscess, and may even contribute to systemic problems in other parts of the body.

Root Canal Treatment Is Your Friend

We've all heard the gag: “I'd rather have a root canal...” This comedy line, comparing the procedure to something truly undesirable, may be funny — but putting off needed endodontic treatment is no joke. The idea that a root canal procedure invariably comes with complications and pain is a shopworn myth. It's certainly true that infection or inflammation in the tooth's pulp can be excruciatingly painful. But you should remember that having a root canal results in eliminating this acute pain and is not the cause of the pain.

Need another reason not to delay root canal treatment? How about this: A natural tooth that's saved via root canal treatment and restoration helps you avoid the problems that commonly occur when teeth must be removed. These include unwanted tooth migration or shifting, which can lead to difficulties in chewing; the need for bridgework or dental implants, which may be costly and complicated; and even the eventual loss of bone structure from the area of the missing tooth.

Causes of Root Canal Problems

Decayed tooth with infection needing root canal treatment.

Root canal problems stem from infection and inflammation of the tooth's pulp tissue. One potential cause of infection is deep tooth decay. Untreated dental cavities eventually allow bacteria to work their way down to the center of the tooth, where they may infect the pulp tissue. Another path by which bacteria may come into contact with pulp is via chipped or cracked teeth. Any opening in the protective enamel coating has the potential to allow bacteria access to the tooth's pulp.

Trauma to the tooth — the kind that might result from a sports injury or automobile accident, for example — is also a major cause of pulp tissue damage. In this case, it's essential to seek treatment immediately, both to try and save the tooth, and to prevent future problems.

In some cases, extensive dental work itself may cause damage to the pulp tissue that will need to be treated via a root canal. Having multiple fillings or restorations on the same tooth increases the chances of this type of injury. Occasionally, common procedures like crown preparation or orthodontics may eventually lead to root canal problems.

What to Expect During Root Canal Therapy

If an examination shows that you do need root canal therapy, don't worry — it's one of the most routine and effective procedures in the arsenal of dental treatments and can often be accomplished in just one visit.

The root canal process generally begins the same way as a filling does, and with no greater discomfort: an anesthetic is administered to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. For many patients, the worst is already over.

Tooth after root canal treatment.

Next, a small opening is made in the surface of the affected tooth to give access to the pulp chamber and root canals. Tiny instruments are used, sometimes with the aid of a microscope, to remove the dead and dying pulp tissue from inside these narrow passageways. The chamber and empty canals are then cleaned, disinfected, and prepared to receive a filling of inert, biocompatible material. Finally, adhesive cement is used to seal the opening in the tooth, preventing future infection.

Following root canal treatment, your tooth may feel some sensitivity or tenderness for a few days. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen are generally effective in relieving discomfort, but prescription medications may also be given if needed. During this period, it may help to avoid biting hard on the affected tooth. All of these symptoms, however, should be temporary.

To further protect the tooth and restore it to full function, it's usually necessary to have a crown or other restoration placed on it. Restorations can take many forms, from traditional gold crowns to tooth replicas made of high-tech tooth-colored material. In any case, you will have made an investment in preserving your dental health for years to come.

Signs and Symptoms of Root Canal Problems

How do you know when you need a root canal? Sometimes, it's painfully obvious. If you feel constant and severe pain and pressure in your mouth, or noticeable swelling and extreme sensitivity in your gums, then it's clear you need an evaluation and treatment right away. Another telltale symptom of pulp tissue damage is sharp pain when you bite down on food. Lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods is also an indication of potential trouble. If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to have an examination as soon as possible.

Related Articles

Root Canal - Dear Doctor Magazine

“I'd Rather Have a Root Canal...” We've all heard that expression, but how true is it? Is root canal treatment really something to be feared, or does it actually offer relief? In this article, a common misconception is demystified. Get the real story about this much maligned procedure that eases pain, rather than causes it... Read Article

Root Canal Treatment for Children - Dear Doctor Magazine

Root Canal Treatment for Children's Teeth You may think that if a baby tooth comes out prematurely, it's no great loss; after all, it was going to fall out anyway, right? Wrong! Primary (baby) teeth serve as important guides for the permanent teeth that will replace them. Losing baby teeth prematurely can allow bite problems to develop. Root canal treatment for children can prevent this. Learn what to look for in your child and what can be done to save baby teeth until they are ready to be lost naturally... Read Article

Tooth Pain - Dear Doctor Magazine

Tooth Pain? Don't Wait! Pain is a protective response that informs the body that something is wrong. Tooth pain, specifically, is caused by a reaction of the nerves inside a tooth's pulp chamber, with the severity dependent upon the type and degree of the stimulus. This article gives some examples of pain symptoms and their possible causes... 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