What do I do if I have an emergency and the office is closed?
Contact our office at our phone number. Dr. Dovidio has an emergency phone number listed on our voice messaging system where she can be reached in case of a dental emergency occurring after hours. If she leaves town or is otherwise unavailable, she ensures that she has a local dentist covering for her; in that case, the contact information will be left on the voice messaging system as well.
If you are calling after hours, we will make an appointment for you to come in as soon as possible as a tooth injury should be taken care of quickly to avoid causing further harm to the mouth. There are some steps you can take if the injury happens after our office is closed or late at night:
- Soothe a toothache with a warm-water rinse, an over-the-counter painkiller, and a cold compress applied to your mouth or cheek to reduce swelling. If there’s food or matter lodged between your teeth, remove it with dental floss. Never apply aspirin against your gums or near the aching tooth; it may burn the gum tissue.
- If you chip or break a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water; make sure to rinse and save any tooth pieces. Put gauze on any bleeding area in your mouth and apply light pressure until the bleeding stops. If there’s swelling, place a cold compress against your lip, cheek, or mouth.
- If a tooth has been knocked out, retrieve it, hold it by the crown, and rinse off the root with warm water (take care not to remove any attached tissue). Try to put the tooth back in its socket, but do not force it. If you can’t re-seat the tooth, then place it in a small cup of milk, or water with a pinch of salt, and try to see a dentist as soon as possible. It is possible to save a tooth if you see a dentist and have it placed back in its socket within one hour of being knocked out.
- For a partially dislodged (extruded) tooth, put a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek for the pain, and take an over-the-counter pain relief medication (such as Advil or Tylenol).
- Objects caught between the teeth should be removed with dental floss only. If the object will not move, do not use a pin or knife-tip (or any other sharp object) to try to get it out. You can cut your gums or scratch the surface of your teeth.
- Lost fillings can be temporarily filled with a piece of sugarless gum placed in the cavity, or over-the-counter dental cement. Lost crowns can be slipped back over the tooth, and held in place with over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive. If the area is painful, apply a little clove oil on the tip of a cotton swab before putting the crown back in place.
- If a wire breaks on your braces, try to push it back into place with the eraser end of a pencil. If you can’t move it back or put it in a more comfortable place, cover the end of the wire with dental wax, or a piece of cotton or gauze. Never cut the wire, as you could swallow or accidentally aspirate the metal bit.
- Loose braces can temporarily be re-attached with a bit of dental wax. You can also place the wax over the braces to cushion them. Loose bands must be brought back to the orthodontist to be re-cemented or replaced, so save it and make an appointment.
- Abscesses, infections that set up at the root of a tooth or between the teeth and gums, can spread quickly if not treated right away. To ease the pain and draw the pus to the surface, rinse your mouth with a salt-water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 1 cup of water) at least once an hour. Take an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (Advil).