Toothaches may be caused by a variety of problems, so it is best to call us to discuss your symptoms as the treatment will vary depending on what the cause is. Often the first step is to try to control the pain with over-the-counter medication such as Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetominophen). The combination of Advil AND Tylenol provides even greater relief as they act together to control the origins of pain, inflammation, trauma, etc. The dosage is one Advil at the same time as one Tylenol. Whenever taking Tylenol, avoid alcohol consumption as your liver MAY be affected. See the product information on the labels.
The next step is to determine if the pain is coming from the tooth or the gums. Pain in the tooth may be from a cavity, a cracked tooth or an abscess. All of these conditions require a visit to the dentist and the abscess will usually require antibiotics. Pain in the gums may be from a flare-up of a long standing problem with gum disease, or from a piece of food or foreign object getting caught in the gums. Rinsing with salt water and gently flossing the area often solves the problem. Commercial antiseptic mouthwashes can also be used, not more than four times a day is usually the recommendation for mouthwashes that contain alcohol. See the product information on the labels.
CHIPPED OR BROKEN TOOTH
A chipped or broken tooth can almost always be saved as long as the root structure has not been badly damaged or cracked. Very often a basic tooth-coloured filling can be placed to replace the broken portion. In more serious cases a root canal treatment or a crown may be needed. Sharp broken edges can irritate the tongue or lip and are best treated as soon as practical.
A tooth can be knocked out from a fall or impact. If the lost tooth is an adult (or permanent) tooth, we may be able to put it back in place. You must act quickly. If the tooth is put back in place within 30 minutes, it has a fair chance of retaining its vitality. After 2 hours, the chances are poor.
If the tooth looks clean, put it back in its place (its socket). If it’s dirty, hold the tooth by the crown and gently rinse off the root of the tooth in water. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk and come to our office as quickly as possible.
If your child’s baby (primary) tooth is completely knocked out, it will usually not be replaceable. If the tooth is simply displaced, it can often be repositioned and should heal.
It is important to follow up with us after any trauma so that we can monitor the healing of both the soft tissue and the tooth.
BADLY BITTEN LIP OR TONGUE
If there is bleeding, use a clean cloth and press down on the part of the mouth that is bleeding. If the lip is swollen, use an ice pack to keep the swelling down. If the bleeding does not stop within two hours, go to a hospital Emergency department.
OBJECT OR FOOD CAUGHT BETWEEN TEETH
First, try using dental floss, very gently and carefully, to remove the object. Try trying a small knot in the floss and gently draw the knotted area through the space between the teeth. Never poke between your teeth with a pin or similar sharp, pointy object, this can cut your gums or scratch the tooth surface. Be careful with tooth picks, especially wooden ones, since they may splinter into the area. If you cannot remove the object, call our office.
LOST FILLING OR CROWN
If you have all or part of a filling fall out just put a piece of softened sugarless chewing gum in the area where the filling was lost. This will protect the area for a short period of time until you can get in to see us. It often helps for us to see the lost pieces to determine what exactly happened.
The same technique can be used if a temporary or permanent crown falls off. Again, soften some sugar-free gum and place a little piece inside the crown and gently replace the crown. Do not bite too hard, but close gently to seat the crown into place. If it feels too thick, remove some of the gum from inside the crown. You may also use some denture adhesive as a temporary glue to hold things together until you can come in to see us.
POST OPERATIVE (POST SURGERY) BLEEDING
There will often be some minor bleeding during the first 24 hours after surgery. Biting on a gauze pad or on a moist tea bag will usually control the bleeding. If you are unable to control the bleeding you must seek immediate treatment. For more information, please consult the post-operative care instruction sheet given to you at the surgery visit, or review our instructions on this site.