Dental Emergencies

Below are the answers to our most frequently asked questions regarding dental emergencies.

Dental emergencies usually involve injuries to the mouth and teeth. These include teeth that are avulsed (knocked out), teeth that are extruded (forced out of position and loosened), and teeth that are fractured. The cheeks, lips, and gums are also often cut in a dental emergency. Oral injuries can be painful and should be treated by a professional dentist as soon as possible for best results.
As soon as possible. Seeing a dentist within 30 minutes of the accident or emergency can make the difference between losing and saving a damaged or misplaced tooth.
  • Immediately call Durham dentist Dr. Schlotterer to schedule an emergency appointment.
  • Handle the misplaced tooth by the crown, not the root (the part below the gum). Touching the root of the tooth can irreversibly damage the cells necessary for reattachment.
  • Gently rinse the tooth with water to remove any present dirt. Do not scrub the tooth.
  • Try to place the tooth back into its socket.
  • If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place it in your mouth between the gum and cheek to keep it moist. It is essential to not to let the misplaced tooth dry out.
  • If you cannot store the tooth in the mouth of the victim for any reason, carefully wrap the misplaced tooth in clean gauze or cloth and immerse it in a glass of milk.

Using very light pressure with your fingers, try to gently reposition the tooth into its normal alignment. Do not force the tooth. To keep the tooth from moving, remember to gently bite down on it.

If your tooth is broken or fractured, first rinse out your mouth with warm water. Then use a cold compress or ice back to reduce swelling of the cheek. Remember to use ibuprofen, not aspirin, to treat any discomfort. Visit Dr. Schlotterer, our dentist in Durham, as soon as possible so he can determine what treatment is right for you and your smile.
Minor fractures can be corrected by Dr. Schlotterer. He may recommend smoothing the fracture out with a sandpaper disc or restoring the tooth with a composite (tooth-colored) restoration such as a crown or filling.
Moderate tooth fractures typically include damage to the pulp, enamel, and/or dentin. If the pulp of the tooth is not permanently damaged, the tooth itself may be restored with a permanent dental crown. If pulp damage is present, the tooth will require further treatment.
Severe fractures often result in a traumatized tooth that has a very slim chance of restoration. In most cases, teeth with severe fractures cannot be corrected.
No matter where the wound is, it should be cleaned with warm water right away. Take the victim to a hospital emergency room to receive the necessary care. You may be able to reduce the bleeding from a tongue laceration by pulling the tongue forward and placing pressure and gauze around the wound.
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