FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Emergency info

COMMON DENTAL SITUATIONS Q&A

What do I do if I experience a toothache?
First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. Call our office for an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing unmanageable pain (by use of OTC pain relievers) or facial swelling and are not able to be seen in our office, please go to the hospital emergency room.
What do I do if I break or chip my tooth?
Save any pieces. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. Call our office for an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing unmanageable pain (by use of OTC pain relievers) or facial swelling and are not able to be seen in our office, please go to the hospital emergency room.

 
What do I do if I knock out a tooth?
Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse off the tooth root with water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it’s not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available) or a product containing cell growth medium, such as Save-a-Tooth. In all cases, see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.

 
What do I do if my tooth gets partially knocked out?
See your dentist right away. Until you reach your dentist’s office, to relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area. Take an over-the-counter analgesic (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed. Call our office for an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing unmanageable pain (by use of otc pain relievers) or facial swelling and are not able to be seen in our office, please go to the hospital emergency room with the tooth if possible.

 
What do I do if I get something caught in between my teeth?
First, try using dental floss to very gently and carefully remove the object. Never use a pin or other sharp object to poke at the stuck object. These instruments can cut your gums or scratch your tooth surface. Call our office for an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing unmanageable pain (by use of OTC pain relievers) or facial swelling and are not able to be seen in our office, please go to the hospital emergency room.

 
What do I do if I lose a filling?
As a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement. Call our office for an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing unmanageable pain (by use of OTC pain relievers) or facial swelling and are not able to be seen in our office, please go to the hospital emergency room.

 
What do I do if I lose a crown?
If the crown falls off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can’t get to the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, tooth paste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue!

 
What do I do if I break an orthodontic (braces) wire or one is poking my cheek or gums?
If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can’t reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist’s office. Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs.

 
What do I do if I have a loose orthodontic (braces) bracket?
Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call our office for an appointment to have it recemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced).

What do I do if I have an abscessed tooth?
Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Because of the serious oral health and general health problems that can result from an abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that usually is painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt -water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day. Call our office for an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing unmanageable pain (by use of OTC pain relievers) or facial swelling and are not able to be seen in our office, please go to the hospital emergency room.

 
What do I do if I injury my mouth and its bleeding?
Injuries to the soft tissues, which include the tongue, cheeks, gums and lips, can result in bleeding. To control the bleeding, here’s what to do:
1. Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution.
2. Use a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. To both control bleeding and relieve pain, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, see your dentist right away or go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen and treated

My time is valuable; can I minimize the number of appointments it takes to get my teeth fixed?

Certainly this can be done.  First, we routinely do restorations in several areas of the mouth all in the same visit.  We can do this more efficiently by using high tech devices such as air abrasion and the Cerec.  Air abrasion allows us to be very conservative when we remove decay from teeth and it often doesn’t require anesthetic to do this or to place the tooth colored fillings.  This is much more comfortable for our guests and saves a lot of time as well.  The Cerec is a wonderful advancement in dentistry that allows us to make crowns and onlays and bond them in all in the same appointment.  No need for temporaries or a second visit to get your crown put on.

Why do my kids grind their teeth?

There can be several reasons that children grind their teeth.  One of the most overlooked causes is what we call an airway obstruction.  When children grind their teeth, they are often trying to clear their ears, similar to chewing gum on an airplane.  The grinding stimulates a muscle that opens up their eustachian tube which clears the ears.  The eustachian tube can be blocked because of swollen and inflamed tonsils and adenoids.  The tonsils and adenoids are often swollen due to an undiagnosed allergy, such as to milk and dairy, or pollutants in our air.  When the tonsils and adenoids are chronically swollen, it prevents the child from getting enough air which can lead to other problems for the growing child, such as snoring, sleep apnea, crowded teeth, small jaws, behavior disorders, improper brain development and so on.  We can often help the situation by having an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor remove the chronically swollen and inflamed tonsils and adenoids to help the child breath better.

I’ve heard a lot about lumineers and veneers.  What is the difference and which one is right for me?

Lumineers and veneers are very similar in that they are used to solve similar problems.  They are both thin pieces of porcelain that cover the front of teeth in order to change the shape, size or color of the tooth.  The difference is that Lumineers are known for the ability to place them without having to alter (or prep) the tooth before they are placed.  Because of this they are usually much thinner than a classic veneer (which requires removal of some tooth).  Due to the fact that they are thin, they can be weaker and have difficulty covering up some color problems.  The classic veneer is usually thicker and therefore you have more porcelain to work with which makes it easier to get a more consistent uniform smile in the end.  They both have their places and a properly trained cosmetic dentist will be able to let you know what is right for you.

My gums bleed when I brush sometimes, isn’t this normal?

This is not a healthy situation as healthy tissue doesn’t bleed.  Many people are so use to having this happen that they think it is normal.  Bleeding gums is a sign of gingivitis and gum disease which can lead to severe infections and loss of teeth.  It also has been linked to other diseases in the body like heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.  By getting your gums healthy, you can reduce risk factors for many of these other diseases, like these, and live a longer healthier life.

Can I straighten my teeth without all of the metal?

Yes, you certainly can.  One of the best ways of doing this is using a product called Invisalign.  It is a series of clear plastic trays that you wear that puts pressure on your teeth to move them.  They are very comfortable and are virtually invisible.  They can also be removed which makes it much easier to keep your teeth and gums healthy when you clean them.  Almost everyone can have their smile improved with the use of Invisalign.

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