Nova Family Dentistry

Emergency Dentistry

Dental Emergency Treatment in Fairfax

Emergency Dentistry If you think you may have a dental emergency the first step is to determine the severity of the problem: Is it an urgent situation that requires immediate attention, or a minor problem that you can take care of yourself, temporarily, until you can come in to the office?

A Major Dental Emergency

What does “injury” mean? Merriam Webster defines it as “harm or damage: an act or event that causes someone or something to no longer be fully healthy or in good condition.” People typically consider cuts and bruises, even broken bones, to be the most common injuries that are experienced. This is true, but there must also be consideration for dental injuries, which also occur more often than people believe. There are only a few true dental emergencies. They include:

  • Trauma or injury to the teeth, face or mouth
  • Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth or face
  • Severe, unmanageable discomfort or pain in these areas

In any of these situations, you should seek help as soon as possible — go to an emergency room, if that's your best option. Generally, however, the place to start is at our Fairfax dental office. If, for example, you have a fractured tooth, that immediate problem requires diagnosis and treatment. Afterwards your treatment plan can be adjusted as needed. Likewise, severe pain or swelling could be a sign of infection or disease, which also needs immediate treatment.

Dental Emergency: What Is It?

Just like how a bone can break, oral health can breakdown, and that’s due to decay, dental trauma or an abscessed tooth. If decay or trauma occurs, the patient needs to seek professional care as soon as possible. When there is harm or damage to a person’s oral health, it’s considered a dental emergency. Here is a list of common dental emergencies and their causes:
  • Toothache – caused by tooth decay, an infection or dental trauma
  • Chipped or broken tooth – caused by dental trauma or teeth grinding
  • Abscessed tooth – caused by decay and bacterial infection
  • Knocked-out tooth – caused by dental trauma
  • Lost filling or crown – caused by dental trauma or weak condition of dental material
  • Soft-tissue injuries – caused by dental trauma

Some Minor OrthodonticTroubles

Fortunately, the vast majority of orthodontic problems are minor compared to these situations — but they may still cause discomfort or irritation. In general, it's best to try and soothe the immediate cause of the discomfort, and then call for an appointment. Here are a few of the more common orthodontic problems, along with some tips on what you can do to relieve them at home:

Loose or broken brackets, bands or wires
This problem is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food, or playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as is — but don't connect any elastics to it! You can cover it with orthodontic wax if it's irritating the inside of your mouth. If it has come off, save it. In either case, call our office to let us know what happened, and we will recommend the next step.

Misplaced or poking archwire, bracket or tie
As the teeth start to move, the wire that connects them (archwire) may begin poking near the back of the mouth or irritating the cheeks. You can try moving the wire into a better position with a pencil eraser or a Q-Tip. If the wire won't move, you may be able to cut the end off with a nail clipper sterilized in alcohol — but before doing so, please call for guidance or instructions. Often, you can also use tweezers to gently move a misplaced wire or a tie that's causing problems. When wires or brackets cause irritation, covering the metal parts with wax will often help ease the discomfort. As with any of these types of problems, it's best to make an appointment so it can be taken care of.

General tooth pain or loosening
It's normal for teeth to become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment — that shows they're moving! Sometimes, this movement may be accompanied by tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. For minor soreness, you can use your regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt-water rinse may also help: Mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water, and rinse for 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.

Dental Emergency Treatments

Since there are a number of dental emergencies, dentists utilize variety treatments to combat decay, infection and dental trauma. These procedures are intended to restore a tooth to its full health and function. Some common treatments to handle dental emergencies include the following:
  • Root canal therapy – to treat an abscessed tooth
  • Filling – to treat tooth decay
  • Temporary crown – to treat a chipped, cracked or knocked-out tooth
While actual emergencies are rare, the goal is to make your treatment as comfortable as possible!

At Nova Family Denitstry we will treat a variety of traumatic dental injuries, including chipped, moved or knocked out teeth. Please call Nova Family Dentistry in Fairfax at (703) 267-6103 for assistance.

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