What Should I Do?
Something happened, and your experiencing a dental emergency. The Smile Anchorage can help you through this anxious and sometimes difficult problem. Call our office to schedule an appointment immediately if you have broken a tooth, had a tooth knocked out, or if you are experiencing pain, bleeding, swelling, infection or other serious symptoms. The Smile Anchorage can be reached at (502)243-9200
Below are some answers and instructions for common dental emergencies. An important note: Many dental emergencies have solutions that are time sensitive. You must act quickly to prevent symptoms from worsening, and to ensure that treatment can be performed before it’s too late.
In the event of any emergency, it is important to remain calm but act quickly. If you are experiencing any of the more severe symptoms from an accidental trauma (bleeding from the nose or ears, dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, teeth that will not fit together after a fall or hit) then go directly to the nearest Louisville or Southern Indiana area hospital to have these symptoms evaluated. For those emergencies that are not severe enough to warrant a visit to the ER, call The Smile Anchorage at (502)243-9200
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about dental emergencies here at The Smile Anchorage. Simply click on the “+” symbol to expand and get more information.
Pain Of Dental Origin
Pain in the teeth or jaws can vary from a slight irritation to excruciating, intense pain. Hurting is your body’s response to something being wrong. The Smile Anchorage can work to determine the cause of the hurt. In turn, we can repair the problems and alleviate the hurting. The pain you experience can be of non-dental origin. These include things such as headaches, sinus infections, muscle issues, ear infections and other sources. More commonly, pain in the teeth and jaws is dental in origin. To clarify, that means it is caused by something wrong with one or more of your teeth.
The Major Cause
The most common problem that causes tooth pain is dental caries, or cavities. Bacteria in the mouth take advantage of the sugars in the foods we eat, converting those sugars into acids that work to break down the tooth structure. In the early stages this is usually painless, and gives little or no sensation. As these cavities grow in size the teeth can become increasingly sensitive. If they become very large, the hurting can begin to be intolerable.
If treated early enough, cavities can be repaired. However, waiting too long to see your dentist can have a negative effect on the probability of success or even the ability to treat the cavities with fillings. More severe cases of cavities might result in the need for a dental crown, or possibly a root canal.
Another source of discomfort could be inflammation of the periodontal tissue, or the gums around your teeth. Once again, bacteria help form plaque, and consequently tarter, around the teeth and below the gum line. Chronic, long term plaque and tarter cause the tissues to get worse and can lead to infections that may exude from around the teeth. Additionally, a foreign object could get lodged between the teeth, also causing inflammation and infection. A popcorn hull, a piece of food or even a shred of dental floss left behind could cause this problem.
Another source of pain could be from the third molars, also known as the wisdom teeth. When these teeth begin to grow into the oral cavity, the pressures placed on adjacent teeth can cause pain that is often vague in nature. When the wisdom teeth are partially through the skin, food and bacterial plaque can accumulate beneath the skin, causing a condition known as pericoronitis. Pericoronitis, or inflammation of the tissues surrounding the crown of a tooth, can have symptoms of pain, swelling, tenderness and sometimes a foul taste in your mouth.
What To Do Now
The first thing you need to do if you are hurting is to contact The Smile Anchorage and get an exam in our office. Once the cause of the problem is determined, we can focus on the treatment that will best resolve your issue. Until you can get into our office, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce the intensity of the pain.
First we must establish the severity of the injury to your tooth or teeth. If you have chipped or fractured the tip or edge of your tooth, and you are not experiencing pain, then you are not in a true dental emergency. It may seem like an emergency. Especially if that broken front tooth is going to ruin your daughter’s wedding pictures. Likewise, if you are giving a speech tomorrow morning to a crowd it could be a problem. While those are important elements to your problem, the nature of your injury is not critical. For those simple types of injuries, just give us a call and we will get you scheduled right away.
If your tooth was broken as a result of a traumatic injury to your face or head, and you experienced any loss of consciousnesses or are having issues with memory loss, bleeding from the ears or nose, then go to the nearest Louisville area hospital emergency room. Additionally, if you are experiencing dizziness or disorientation, then go to the ER. If you are having ear aches or severe head aches, then go to the ER as well. Likewise, if you are having a problem with your teeth fitting together properly after the accident, you should also go immediately to the nearest ER. These symptoms could be a sign of a serious head trauma. For example, it could include injuries to the brain, a broken jaw or facial bones or serious soft tissue injuries.
If your injury has any of those qualities, the emergency room is the best place to go for immediate care. Nearly all Louisville area hospitals have oral and maxillofacial surgeons on duty or on-call. They can manage and repair these type of serious injuries.
Less Severe Problems
Most dental accidents will not be so serious. In the event that you have broken or chipped a tooth you may be experiencing sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures, pain when biting or chewing, having a feeling of roughness or sharpness that may be irritating or causing soreness or injury to your lips, cheeks or tongue.
Depending on the amount of tooth structure that has broken, the pain can vary from mild to very intense. If the pain is constant and hurting at all times, this could be a sign of a serious injury to the tooth that involves the nerve. Some indications that you need to see a dentist immediately are:
Moderate or severe pain
Bleeding around the gumline
pink, red, dark or light colored areas in the broken tooth
Teeth that are out of place, even if they are not hurting
Sensitivity to temperature, like drinking cold or hot liquids
You should try to get into our office as soon as possible. Until you can make it here, try over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or Motrin to help alleviate any pain. A cold pack on the lips or cheeks may also help reduce pain. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with gauze to the area until the bleeding stops.
Depending on the amount of tooth that has been damaged, we may be able to save your tooth with a procedure as simple as a filling. Teeth with larger fractures may require additional treatment, such as a root canal, crown or an extraction. Sometimes saving the tooth is not the best option. Fractures may be significant enough that repairing the tooth may not be possible. In those instances, we will look into options for replacing the broken tooth.
Tooth Knocked Out
Avulsion (having a tooth knocked out) is often an injury that will require replacement of the lost tooth. On occasion, the avulsed tooth may be re-implanted into the socket with success. If you have had a tooth knocked out completely, there is a limited amount of time before the tooth cannot be put back in the mouth. The longer the tooth is out of the mouth, the greater the probability that re-implanting will not be a success.
Time Is Of The Essence
If you just had the tooth knocked out you have precious little time to react. You may have some bleeding. It can range from little to no blood, to bleeding quite profusely. In the event that the tooth that was knocked out can be located DO NOT PICK IT UP BY THE ROOT. To clarify, only pick up the tooth by the crown (the part you normally see in the mouth). You must get to the dental office IMMEDIATELY. In order of best to worst, transport the tooth in the following way:
Gently rinse the tooth and place it back in the socket if it is in one piece, and get to the dental office right away
Use a product for saving a tooth that has been knocked out, such as Sav-A-Tooth, and get to the dental office right away
Place it between your cheek and gums, and get to the dental office right away
Store the tooth in milk and get to the dental office right away
Dental implants replace missing teeth. Likewise, dental bridges can also replace missing teeth. Additionally, partial dentures can replace teeth. So, knocked out teeth can be replaced. Don’t panic. There are solutions. Call The Smile Anchorage and schedule and appointment if you had a tooth knocked out. We are happy to evaluate your missing tooth.
What To Do If Your Crown Came Off Or You Lost A Filling
If you have lost a filling or crown and are not experiencing any pain, then you do not need to worry about getting to the dental office in any extreme hurry. Call our office and make an appointment. We will get your tooth repaired if possible.
If you are going to be a day or two before getting to our office, take these steps. First, if the missing filling or crown has a sharp edge irritating your lips, cheek or tongue, place orthodontic wax over the area. Or, use a temporary dental filling material. Both of those can be found in any drugstore in the dental health section near the tooth brushes and tooth paste. Time isn’t usually critical. But, you do not want to let a missing filling or crown go on for long periods of time. The exposed tooth will be weaker than your normal tooth. Missing crowns or fillings can also allow teeth to shift when they are not treated in a timely manner.
If you are having mild pain or sensitivity, use over-the-counter pain relievers to minimize the problem. If you can find clove oil in your local drug-store, a drop of clove oil on the tooth can provide some pain relief. Use a Q-Tip cotton swab to dab a small amount on the tooth.
If you have the crown, keep it and bring it with you to the office. If it can be re-cemented, we will simply do just that. Sometimes, the crown dislodges due to recurrent decay. That’s new decay that has formed under the crown and caused it to fall off. If this is the case, a new crown may need to be created in order to repair the damage.
The same can be said for large fillings. If recurrent decay has ravaged the underlying tooth structure, a new filling may not be possible. As such, the tooth may now require a crown, or even require a root canal and a crown. Schedule an appointment at The Smile Anchorage and we will evaluate your lost crown or fillings.
Something Stuck Between Teeth
That unmistakable pressure. You have something between your teeth. Most things that get jammed between two teeth are an irritation rather than a true emergency. But, those irritations are awful. Tongues can’t stop trying to push it out. Your mind doesn’t let you forget it is there. Popcorn hulls are distracting you from the movie! Aaaaargh!
What To Do, And What Not To Do
First, do not use any sharp instruments to try to remove the stuck food or debris. These sharp or pointed items can injure the soft tissue of the gums and cause greater harm than the material that is stuck between the teeth. likewise, you could cause damage to the hard tissue. That means a broken tooth!
Teeth should be brushed. Try this first. If that doesn’t work, attempt to use a piece of floss to remove the item. Tie a single knot in the dental floss. Then, pull it through and between the teeth. If this doesn’t work, call our office and we can schedule you to relieve the problem.If you are having really strong discomfort or pain, try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Tylenol or Ibuprofen work well. But, pain strong enough for that means you should be calling our office.
Abscess Or Gum Swellings (Bumps)
An abscess forms when there is an infection in the tooth root. Likewise, an infection can occur in the space between adjacent teeth. When bacteria invade the inside of the tooth, or the tissues that surround teeth, an infection occurs. As the infection increases in size, the pus that forms can find it’s way to the surface. As a result, a swelling of the tissue occurs. When these swellings burst and drain, the pressure is relieved and often the pain can disappear. However, when they do not drain, the infections can grow and become dangerous. Infection can spread to the head, neck or jaw and in some cases cause a generalized sepsis. That means a widespread infection of the body.
These infections can be serious, especially if they spread to other parts of the body. Often an abscess is seen as a small to medium sized bump or swelling on the gums. These are most likely what is known as a periapical abscess, or a tooth related infection. On occasion the infection does not cause the bump or swelling to form on the gums, but instead the infectious material (pus) finds it’s way up the root of the tooth and leaks from around the gum-line of the tooth. These are most likely what are known as a periodontal abscess, or a gum related infection. In either case, there can often be a foul odor or taste associated with these infections.
Abscesses are often accompanied by fever, swelling of the face/cheek and swollen lymph nodes under your jawline. If you are experiencing fever and/or swelling in the face or in your lymph nodes and cannot get to a dentist quickly, you should visit the nearest Louisville or Southern Indiana hospital emergency room.
Treating an abscess will often include a course of antibiotics, and potentially draining the abscess. The underlying cause of the infection may require that the affected tooth have a root canal procedure, or perhaps the tooth may need to be extracted (pulling the tooth).
The cost of any particular procedure is going to vary depending on a number of factors. For example, you may have an insurance plan that has a specific contracted payment amount, or you may have an insurance co-pay or deductible. For an accurate cost on any particular treatment, please contact our front office staff and we will gladly help you determine your out-of-pocket costs.
The Smile Anchorage is always happy to accept new patients. While our office can become very busy, we try to keep some time in our schedule to see new patients and emergencies when they occur. Call our office to set up an appointment. The number is (502) 243-9200
Dental Insurance Plans
Our dental office is a participating provider for a number of dental insurance plans. The Smile Anchorage accepts the insurance plans of most of the major employers in the area. Notably this includes United Parcel Service UPS, Humana, Ford Motor Company, Yum! Brands, Papa John’s and many others.
Please keep in mind that your insurance coverage may be different that that of your co-workers. Even though you have the same provider, you may be enrolled in a different plan. Hence, plans can vary greatly. For example, your co-worker might have coverage for braces. In contrast, you may have no coverage for those procedures. By the same token your co-worker may pay $25 for a filling. Instead, you might pay nothing for a similar filling. The Smile Anchorage does not have any say in what your plan covers. Call or come by our office. Speak to one of our insurance specialists. They can tell you about your exact coverages.
You Have No Insurance
We know that many of our patients have no insurance. So, The Smile Anchorage has an in-house dental plan for those without insurance called The Smile Program. Firstly, The Smile Program covers twice per year cleanings. Secondly, exams are included two times per year. Likewise, all necessary x-rays are included. Thirdly, there are discounts on certain treatments. Additionally there are no claim forms. Equally important other benefits are explained on our New Patients page. Click here to learn more about The Smile Program.
The list of dental insurance plans that are accepted at The Smile Anchorage is not a static list. Correspondingly, changes sometimes occur. With this in mind, we advise that you call to confirm that your insurance is accepted in our office before you make an appointment.
A current list of insurance providers that are accepted in our office is shown below. Providers change. The list is updated as of July 2017.
LHI Logistics Health Incorporated
Lincoln Financial Group
United Concordia & ADDP United Concordia