Category Archives: Dental Emergencies

Common Habits Can Chip your Teeth!

Woman biting her nailsThough enamel is the hardest substance in your body, it can be damaged.   Using your teeth to open bottles, tear tape, open packages or biting fishing lines can chip your teeth.  Biting your nails or chewing on pencils can also damage your teeth.

Woman opening a package wih her teeth

 

Beware of chomping on seeds, popcorn kernels or even ice.   Your teeth are for chewing food. They are not tools.

 

Woman opening a bottle with her teeth

 

So the next time you hear your mom say “don’t use your teeth to open the bottle,” thank her for the reminder.

Is Work Stressing Your Jaw?

Is work stressing you out?   Are you worried about getting your taxes done?  Are there too many things on your to-do list and not enough time in the day to get them done?   Too much stress can lead to tooth grinding or clenching, and eventually temporomandibular disorder (TMD) or jaw pain.

TMD Pain Cycle

 

Overworking your jaw muscles can cause TMD.  Often people don’t even realize they are clenching or grinding.  It may happen at night while you are sleeping, or even during the day.

 

Night guard

 

A night guard can help relieve the symptoms and protect your teeth.  Over a short period of time, the habit is not detrimental.  However, if it is not treated, it can lead to TMD or even cracked tooth syndrome.

 

No Need to Worry – It is Just a Root Canal

What is a root canal?Tooth anatomy

Underneath your tooth’s outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp tissue.  While a tooth’s pulp tissue does contain nerve fibers, it is also composed of arteries, veins, lymph vessels, and connective tissue.  Each tooth’s nerve enters the tooth at the very tip of its roots.  From there, the nerve runs through the center of the root in small “root canals,” which join up with the tooth’s pulp chamber.

Why do I feel pain?

When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed due to a deep cavity or fracture, the blood supply to the tooth may be lost and the tooth pulp may die. Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood Infected tooth pulpflow and activity in the tooth’s cells.  Pressure may build within a tooth that cannot be relieved, causing pain that is commonly felt when biting down, chewing, or consuming hot or cold foods and drinks.

Why might I need treatment?Bone loss

Without treatment, the infection will spread and bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, possibly causing the tooth to fall out.  Pain usually worsens until you are forced to seek dental attention.

What is root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy is a procedure that removes the damaged or dead pulp. The canal is reshaped and filled with gutta percha, a rubber-like material, to prevent recontamination of the tooth.  The tooth is then permanently sealed and a crown is placed.

What is involved in root canal therapy?

If Dr. Marinic recommends a root canal, he will refer you for treatment to anInfected pulp endodontist, which is a specialist who treats injuries, diseases, and infections of the tooth pulp.  A space is created into the tooth’s pulp chamber, which, along with any infected root canal, is cleaned of all diseased pulp and reshaped. Medication may be inserted into the area to fight bacteria.  Depending on the condition of the tooth, the crown may then be sealed temporarily to guard against recontamination or the endodontist may immediately fill the canals.

RCT stepsTemporary fillings are usually removed and the pulp chamber and canals are filled on the next visit.  If the tooth is still weak, a post may be inserted above the canal filling to help rebuild the tooth.  Once filled, the area is permanently sealed. Finally, a porcelain crown is placed over the tooth to strengthen its structure and improve its appearance.

How will I feel after treatment?

There may be some inflammation around the gum tissues, which may cause discomfort for a few days.  This can be controlled by an over-the-counter pain reliever.  A follow-up visit to the endodontist will help him review how the tissue is healing.  From this point on, brush and floss regularly, avoid chewing hard foods on the treated tooth, and see Dr. Marinic on a regular basis for cleanings and examinations.

Are there options to root canal therapy?

The only alternative to root canal therapy is to extract the tooth; however, this alone can cause the surrounding teeth to move, resulting in a bad bite.  Though a simple extraction may be perceived as less expensive, the empty space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which ultimately can be more costly than root canal therapy.

Athletes and Their Oral Health

Sports equipmentWhether you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, protecting your mouth, face, head, and neck should be a priority when you participate in your favorite sport or activity.  Taking the appropriate protective measures while on the court, field, rink, or ring can save you from serious injury and costly dental repairs.

What sports pose a threat to oral health?

Any sport that presents the chance of contact or collision with anotherColliding person, object, or surface can potentially cause injury to the teeth, jaws, and oral soft tissue.  These sports include, but are not limited to, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, boxing, and lacrosse.  Individuals who participate in sports, such as biking, inline skating, or skateboarding, also are at risk for injury.

How do mouth guards protect my mouth?

Mouth guard in hockey playerA custom mouth guard made by Dr. Marinic covers the upper teeth with a soft, flexible material that prevents serious injuries, such as broken teeth, jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhage, and neck injuries, by decreasing the chance of the lower jaw jamming into the upper jaw or being pushed back into the temporomandibular (jaw) joint.  Mouth guards also are effective in preventing laceration (cutting) and bruising of the lips and cheeks.  Mouth guards may reduce the severity and incidence of concussions as well.

What other types of protection do I need?Hockey players equipment

Helmets are very important when participating in sports that involve speed and impact.  Properly fitted helmets can prevent major head injuries, as well as facial and neck injuries.  Helmets should always fit well and be fastened correctly.   For certain sports, other protective gear, such as facemasks and body pads, also should be worn.

What do I do if I experience trauma to my mouth?

If you experience an injury to your mouth, including major lacerations to yourKobe Bryant injured lips, cheeks, or gums, seek medical attention immediately.  If you break, chip, or lose a tooth, or experience minor injury to your gums, tongue or cheeks, contact Dr. Marinic immediately.  If you seek treatment immediately after the injury occurs, Dr. Marinic often can save knocked-out teeth and repair minor chips and cracks with appropriate dental materials.  Make an appointment to visit Dr. Marinic for evaluation if your tooth changes color, if you experience any dental pain, or if you notice any swelling in or around your mouth following trauma.

What should I tell Dr. Marinic about my physical activities?

Dr. Marinic talking to patientInform Dr. Marinic if you participate in sports or recreational activities. He can give you tips on how to best protect your mouth, face, head, and neck during these activities.  Because mouth injuries can be painful and costly, Dr. Marinic recommends that all athletes take preventative measures at all times.

Dental Emergencies

ToothacheDental emergencies can be avoided by taking some simple precautions, such as wearing a mouth guard during sports and recreation and staying away from hard food such as candy that may crack a tooth.  Accidents do happen however, and it is important to know what actions to take immediately.

Injuries to the mouth may include teeth that are knocked out (avulsed), forced out of position and loosened (extruded) or fractured.  In addition, lips, gums or cheeks can be cut.  Oral injuries are often painful and should be treated by Dr. Marinic as soon as possible.

What do I when a tooth is knocked out?knocked out tooth

Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment.  Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root.  Touching the root (the part of the tooth below the gum) can damage cells necessary for bone re-attachment.  Gently rinse the tooth in water to remove dirt.  Do not scrub.  Place the clean tooth in your mouth between the cheek and gum to keep it moist.  It is important not to let the tooth dry out.  If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse in milk or saline solution.

What do I do if the tooth is pushed out of position?

Attempt to reposition the tooth to its normal alignment using very light finger pressure, but do not force the tooth.  Bite down to keep the tooth from moving.  Dr. Marinic may splint the tooth in place to the two healthy teeth next to the loose tooth.

broken toothWhat about when the tooth is fractured?

Rinse mouth with warm water and use an ice pack or cold compress to reduce swelling. Take ibuprofen, not aspirin, for pain. Minor fractures can be smoothed by your dentist with a sandpaper disc or simply left alone. 

Restorative procedures can also be done to fix the tooth.  In either case, treatTooth anatomy the tooth with care for several days.  Moderate fractures include damage to the enamel, tissue and/or pulp.  If the pulp is not permanently damaged, the tooth may be restored with a full permanent crown.  If pulp damage does occur, further dental treatment will be required.  Severe fractures often mean a traumatized tooth with slim chance of recovery.

What should I do when the tissue of my mouth is injured?

Injuries to the inside of the mouth include tears, puncture wounds and lacerations to the cheek, lips or tongue.  The wound should be cleaned right away with warm water, and the injured person taken to a hospital emergency room for the necessary care. Bleeding from a tongue laceration can be reduced by pulling the tongue forward and using gauze to place pressure on the wound.

Can I somehow prepare for dental emergencies?  Yes, by packing an emergency dental care kit including:

  • Dentist’s phone numbers Emergency kit
  • Saline solution
  • Handkerchief
  • Gauze
  • Small container with lid
  • Ibuprofen (Not aspirin – Aspirin is an anti-coagulant, which may cause excessive bleeding in a dental emergency.)