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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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Family.

One day in the not-too-distant future, your braces will come off. In a few moments, you'll be free of bands and brackets, able to eat what you want and run your tongue over smooth, clean teeth. But, even on this happy occasion, please remember that you're not quite done with orthodontic treatment yet: The next phase, called retention, is just beginning.

Retention is a critical follow-through stage that typically involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers are available, all of which are custom-made.

But if your teeth are straight now, why do you need a retainer at all? Simply put, it's because if you don't wear one, your teeth will start moving right back to where they were!

Teeth aren't set rigidly in the jawbone — instead, they're held in place by a network of fibers called the periodontal ligaments. After they have being moved, it takes several months for the periodontal ligament to adjust to the new position. So if you want to keep that new smile — and not waste all the time, effort, and money it took to get it — it's essential to wear your retainer as directed.

Being fitted for a retainer usually happens on the same day your braces are removed. After your teeth are thoroughly cleaned, another set of X-rays and/or bite impressions may be taken to check how well your braces worked and to see how much your wisdom teeth have developed. Then, a retainer will be prepared for you.

Three Types of Retainers

Types of orthodontic retainers.

There are three basic types of retainers available today; each works best in particular situations. The most common is the so-called “Hawley” retainer — a thin, tongue-shaped piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position. The Hawley retainer is simple, durable and easily removed. It's even possible to personalize it by choosing different colors and designs for the plastic arch.

Another popular style of retainer is the clear aligner-type, which looks similar to the Invisalign® tray system. These retainers are custom-made of thin, transparent plastic designed to fit precisely over your teeth. Their main advantage is that they're invisible, with no wire to show. These retainers are also easy to remove, but they may be somewhat less durable than the Hawleys. They aren't recommended for patients with certain conditions, like teeth grinding.

Finally, fixed retainers may be an option for some people, especially on the lower front teeth. As their name implies, they aren't removable by the wearer — but they aren't visible either. Like lingual braces, this system uses a wire which is bonded to the tongue side of the teeth. It may remain in place for months, or longer. This type of retainer is sometimes recommended when there's a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position.

A Period of Adjustment

After a short time, most people adjust quite well to wearing a retainer. Some may find that they produce more saliva than usual for a day or so after first wearing any type of retainer — a normal reaction to a foreign object in the mouth. You may also find it a little harder to talk normally at first, but that problem will soon disappear. Of course, removable retainers should always be taken out when you eat or brush your teeth — a big change from braces!

At first, you will probably be told to wear your removable retainer all day, every day. This period of 24/7 retainer use generally lasts from several months to a year. Later, it may be OK to wear it only at night. Finally, you'll probably need to put it on just a few nights a week.

Maintaining — and Retaining — Your Retainer

To stay fresh and germ-free, all retainers need proper cleaning. A Hawley-type retainer can be brushed gently with a regular toothbrush — but a brush may scratch the clear aligner types. Denture cleaners, in powder or tablet form, as well as special retainer cleaners, can be used to clean most removable retainers. Fixed retainers are cleaned by brushing and flossing; a floss threader or interproximal brush can also be a helpful cleaning tool when needed.

Finally, remember to always carry — and use — a retainer case. You'd be surprised how many retainers end up folded in a napkin and accidentally discarded! Also, don't expose your retainer to excess heat by washing it in very hot water or leaving it on a heater: That can cause the retainer to warp and make it unusable. With proper care and conscientious use, a retainer can help you transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile.

Related Articles

Orthodontic Retainers - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers Decades ago, orthodontists used to think that once teeth were moved into the “right” positions, they would stay there forever. Research over the past thirty years has shown that this is not true — there is no “right” position that can assure a permanent, unchanging result. The only way to be sure the alignment of your teeth and your bite remains stable after orthodontic treatment is to wear retainers as needed and as directed by your orthodontist or dentist... Read Article

Orthodontic Retainers - Dear Doctor Magazine

Why Orthodontic Retainers? It is common to wear retainers following orthodontic treatment or what people commonly refer to as braces, for good reason. Teeth must be “retained” or stabilized in their new position long enough for the gum tissue, bone and ligament to reform and mature around them, which can take several months. The teeth will tend to relapse into their old position quite rapidly if the retainers are not worn... 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