Dental Emergencies

Knocked out or displaced tooth Should you ever have a tooth knocked out or moved out of position you have a true dental emergency. This is one case where it is important to get to a dentist fast. If the tooth is still in the socket but is displaced leave it in the socket. These teeth can be repositioned rather easily if you are seen within an hour or so.

If the tooth is knocked completely out of the socket time is very important. The sooner the tooth is put back in place the better. Before you leave for the office the tooth should be rinsed in tap water. Do not scrub or wipe the root. It should not be touched. Leave any tissue attached to the root where it is. Look at the root to see if it is broken or cracked. Do not worry if the crown is cracked. If everything looks OK put the tooth back in the socket. Bite your back teeth together and hold the tooth in place with your fingers. If you can not bring yourself to place the tooth in the socket or if it has a cracked or broken root put it in a glass of ice water that has a pinch of salt and get to a dentist quickly.

Of course, if the tooth is a baby tooth it may just be the normal process of being lost so that it can be replaced by a permanent tooth. Your best guide is if the tooth has a root that is more than a quarter of an inch long you should be seen immediately.

Dental pain If you are having pain it is usually and indication that something is wrong It may be a tooth, the gingival (gums), the bone, the jaw joint or the muscles that move your jaw. The first thing concerning most patients is relief. Aspirin, Tylenol or Advil are good pain relievers and should be tried first, provided you can use them. They only work by swallowing them. Never put either on the tooth or area that is bothering. They will burn the lining of your mouth. If these fail the next thing to try is ice water. This will often stop the pain of a dying tooth.

Swelling Should any part of your mouth, lips or face start swelling due to a dental problem you should also seek help as this often is caused by infection. If the swelling gets bad enough that your eye starts to swell closed, you start having trouble swallowing or you start running a temperature you need to be seen immediately.

Getting help For all of these problems you should get help. During office hours call the office. At night or on weekends you can call the on-call Dr. by calling 721-0496 or the pager number 609-1007 after the message punch in your phone number and they will return your call. This number is also on the office answering machine so you can get it by calling the office. Should you not be able to reach one of us, the University of Washington Hospital has a dentist on call that can see you. Hopefully you will never need any of this information. Back to newsletter index