Dental emergencies are usually pretty obvious when they occur. Contact an emergency dentist if you are experiencing difficulty opening or closing your mouth, have pain, swelling, have lost a tooth or a dental implant, are experiencing significant oral bleeding, or have an infection. If you have tooth sensitivity, a broken tooth, a broken or lost crown, or an injury to your gums, contact your dental office immediately.
If your dentist is not open, contact a practice that specializes in emergency dentistry, like the office of Dr. John Paul Gallardo, DDS, which is currently offering teledentistry virtual consultations to assess possible emergency dental situations.
But how do you deal with a dental emergency while you wait to consult with the dentist?
Missing Dental Implant or Tooth
Losing a tooth or dental implant is alarming, regardless of how it occurs. Don’t panic. While regular check-ups and cleanings significantly reduce the risk of losing a tooth, there are solutions for every dental crisis. A qualified dentist can address your problem and may even be able to replace a natural tooth that has been knocked out if you act quickly.
Natural teeth can fall out for a variety of reasons, including:
- Advanced gum disease
- Dental health issues
- Traumatic injury
Although it is rare, dental implants may loosen or fall out for different reasons, including:
- Not enough implants to support the replacement teeth
- Grinding or clenching the teeth
- Failing to follow your dentist’s recommended oral hygiene regimen
- Insufficient gum tissue supporting the implant
- Health issues like renal disease, diabetes, or liver disease
- Inadequate bone density to support the implant
- Food particles impacted around the implant
- Bacterial infection
Typically, it is the crown that falls out, not the implant. But it is always best to err on the side of caution and immediately see a dentist. If it is the implant, it may very well be a failure to integrate into the jawbone. Here is a quick guideline to follow immediately after discovering that you may have lost in implant:
- Collect and save whatever has fallen out so the dentist can examine it
- Immediately call the dentist
- Avoid chewing on the side of the mouth with the missing implant
- Rinse three times a day with a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol
It is essential to see a dentist as soon as you notice that you are having trouble with an existing implant. The most common cause of implant failure is due to noncompliance with a recovery diet. Implant patients must have soft food until the implant has completely healed. Read more here on caring for dental implants.
Loose or Missing Crown
A crown is the visible part of an implant that looks like the top of a natural tooth. It is secured tightly to the implant abutment. A loose crown is rare but is more common than implant failure.
If you feel that the crown is unstable, contact your dentist immediately to find out if there is an underlying cause. Your dentist will examine the tooth to make sure it’s only a loose crown, not a failing implant.
Early Signs of a Loose Implant
It is essential to have regular dental exams, especially for implant patients. If something is going wrong, you can decrease your chance of complications with early detection. If you suspect that your implant is becoming loose, contact your dentist immediately. Signs of a loose implant include:
- Bleeding when touching the implant
- Visible bone loss
- Discoloration around the implant site
Dental Emergency Protocol
The critical element in nearly every dental emergency is pain. If the pain is too intense to focus on anything else, it is a dental emergency and you must act quickly. Here’s what you need to do:
- Remain Calm
Dental emergencies create high levels of stress. Take a moment to gather your thoughts so you can focus on taking the appropriate action.
If anything has fallen out of your mouth, save it to take with you to the office. A knocked-out tooth should be rinsed and gently placed back into the mouth if possible. Otherwise, it should be kept in the patient’s saliva or a cup of milk. Do not handle the roots.
- Contact an Emergency Dentist
Immediately call an emergency dentist in your area. The trained staff will walk you through what to do over the telephone.
- Rinse Your Mouth With Warm Water
Infection is a risk during any injury. Rinse the injured area with warm water to clean any debris and to prevent further complications.
- Apply Gentle Pressure
If you are bleeding, use a rag to apply light pressure; this will help the blood to clot quicker and stop the bleeding.
- Cold Compress
Placing a bag of ice or frozen vegetables on the area of discomfort can relieve pain and swelling.
- Ask Someone to Drive You to the Dentist
Have someone else drive you to the dentist for emergency treatment. Dental emergencies sometimes accompany head trauma or may cause the individual to experience shock due to extreme stress or panic. It’s always better to have someone else drive you to the office so that you can concentrate on applying gentle pressure and remaining calm.
The Danger of Postponing Treatment
It is important to have dental problems assessed as soon as possible. In some cases, the issue can be extremely dangerous. For example, infections in the mouth can travel to the neck, brain, and heart. A tooth infection can lead to sepsis and a host of life-threatening conditions.
Individuals who have a weakened immune system due to a disease like multiple sclerosis, lupus, or diabetes, run a higher risk of complications if they leave a broken tooth, missing implant, gum infection, or dental problem untreated.
Need immediate assistance in Miami? Contact Gallardo at 305-547-8687 to speak with an emergency dentist.