White Bear Smiles

White Bear Smiles

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Dental Emergencies

How can we help you?

At White Bear Smiles, we strongly believe in education, both for ourselves and for our patients. We've found that patients who take charge of their dental care and ask questions about their health, our practice, and dentistry in general tend to have better overall outcomes. 

So go ahead! Ask us your questions! We're happy to take the time to give you the information you need to make decisions about your care. 

We've collected some of our most commonly heard questions here, but if you need more information or you don't see your question, don't hesitate to give us a call. We're here to help.

Dental Emergencies

Any number of actions can result in a broken tooth.

  • Chewing on a hard object, like a candy or a bone, can break a tooth.
  • A fall or a fight can also lead to a broken tooth.
  • Sometimes a filling can act as a wedge and break a tooth and sometimes a tooth will break for no apparent reason.

The first thing is to remember to stay calm. Control any bleeding. The long-term remedy for a broken tooth is an inlay, onlay or crown. Until you can get to the dentist, though, you can cover the broken tooth with dental wax, which you can get from your dentist and should keep at home as part of your dental emergency kit.

Don't apply either heat or cold to the area. Until you can get the tooth repaired, switch to a diet of soft food. Generally it's not possible to reattach the broken part of the tooth. Save it, though, and bring it to the dentist, and let the dentist make the final determination. Tooth-colored restorations, like a porcelain filling, generally can be repaired.

  • Bleeding - After an extraction, a moist gauze pack is placed over the extraction site to prevent excessive bleeding and to promote the healing blood clot. Keep pressure on it for 30 minutes and replace if bleeding continues. Slight bleeding may occur up to 2 days. Avoid activities that could apply a suction action to the blood clot such as smoking or sucking through a straw.
  • Rinsing - Do not rinse your mouth today. Tomorrow you can rinse your mouth gently with a glass of warm water mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You can do this 3-4 times a day, especially after meals.
  • Swelling - Following an extraction, some swelling and skin bruising may occur. A cold moist cloth or an ice bag applied to the cheek will keep it to a minimum. Place on affected area for about 15-20 minutes of every hour for the next 6 hours.
  • Medications - If non-aspirin pain medication doesn't relieve the discomfort you may experience a stronger medication can be prescribed. Be sure to use all medication as directed.
  • Food - A soft diet with plenty of fluids is recommended the first day. Avoid carbonated or hot beverages. Chewing should be done away from the extraction site.
  • Oral Hygiene - Continue brushing and flossing being extra gentle near the extraction site.
  • Chips - During healing you may notice small bony fragments working their way through the gums. We can easily remove them if they are too annoying.
  • If any unusual symptoms occur, please call our office.

It used to be that when a tooth's pulp – the soft tissue inside the tooth that holds blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue – was damaged or infected, the tooth would have to be removed. Root canal therapy is a method your dentist can use to correct the problem and save your tooth.

Root Canal Therapy Works Like This:

First, your dentist makes an opening in the crown, or top, of the tooth to expose the pulp chamber. Then the dentist removes the infected or damaged pulp and cleans out the root canal or canals. The dentist may put medication into the tooth to clean out any infection. Root canal therapy can require one to three visits to the dentist. The dentist may put a temporary filling in the crown to protect the tooth between visits, or he might leave the tooth open for a period to allow drainage. Next, the dentist will remove the temporary filling, clean out the pulp chamber and root canal and fill those areas. The last step is usually affixing a gold or porcelain crown. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in root canal work.

Cavities, even very large ones, do not automatically make a tooth ache. The pain won't begin until the decay reaches the tooth's nerve. As with any infection, your body's defenses go into action. The body increases blood supply to the infected area. But since the nerve and the pulp are encased in an enamel tooth, the pressure of the increased blood flow causes the swelling and pain that accompanies a toothache. Pulpitis, the name for the acute stage of pulp infection, causes not only toothache but also pain when the teeth come together. That's because at this stage the infection has spread to the peridontal ligament, the membrane that holds the tooth's root in its socket. When the bacteria eventually kills the pulp, it may result in an abscess at the apex of the tooth's root.

Sometimes the tooth can be saved through a root canal. If it has been weakened beyond saving, you might need an artificial tooth. The best way to avoid this situation is to practice good oral hygiene at home and visit your dentist for periodic checkups.

Not finding what you need?
If you have difficulty using our website, please email us or call us at (651) 426-8998
View the ADA Accessibility Statement