“What Should I Do If…” How To Handle 7 Common Dental Health Situations

“What Should I Do If…” How To Handle 7 Common Dental Health Situations
Posted on 05/14/2019
Dental Health Help at Towson Smile Care

In today’s post, our expert dental team gives you tips on what you should do during 7 common (but sometimes unexpected) situations. 

First things first: Call 911 if there’s a true medical emergency.


Use your best judgement and get help fast if you need it. If you’re seriously concerned about your immediate health and safety, your dentist shouldn’t be your first call.

Your crown or filling falls out…

Crowns and fillings are designed to be durable and last for years and years. However, sometimes when eating particularly sticky or chewy foods, or if the underlying tooth structure has begun to decay, a crown or filling can fall out.

If your crown or filling falls out, do your best to not bite down on it as that might damage your other teeth. Rinse it off and put it in a plastic bag and call your dentist to make an appointment. In the case of a crown, we can usually reattach it. But if a filling falls out it’s usually best to just replace it with a new one to ensure a proper fit.

It is also advisable to avoid extremely crunchy, hot or cold food on the affected tooth to avoid further damaging the tooth and avoid pain or sensitivity.

If you swallow a crown or filling, don’t worry. They’re small and will pass naturally.

You’ve knocked a tooth out…

This is a serious situation and requires a dentist’s attention right away to give you the best chance to save your tooth. When a tooth is lost, it’s possible to save it but it takes quick action. If your tooth is knocked out and is in one piece:

  • Pick it up by the crown

  • Avoid touching the root

  • Rinse it with water but don’t use soap

  • Put it back in the socket as gently as possible

  • Contact your dentist ASAP for an emergency appointment

If your tooth is shattered and/or in multiple pieces you’ll need to replace the tooth, ideally with a dental implant. This will restore the look and function of your tooth and  protect against future decay, bone loss, and other complications. If your tooth isn’t knocked out but is a little loose, that’s another sign you need to see your dentist right away.

Commonly caused by:

  • Sports injuries

  • Car accidents

  • Slips and falls

  • Underlying periodontal (gum) disease


You bit your lip, cheek, or tongue…

Woman Smiling Missing Tooth at Towson Smile Care

It happens to everyone! Fortunately it’s usually not a big deal. Apply a little pressure with a tissue or soft, clean cloth and your blood will clot naturally. Eat carefully until it heals.

However, if the bleeding won’t stop on its own, that’s a sign you need to see your doctor, NOT a dentist. Your cheek and tongue contain many nerves and blood vessels. Unless treated carefully, it could affect your ability to speak and eat.

DID YOU KNOW: A black tea bag pressed against a cut on your tongue, lip, cheek, or gums can encourage clotting due to the tannic acid in the tea.

Your tooth feels jagged or rough — or you can see a chip/crack

Small cracks and chips are common. They might be caused over time by chronic tooth grinding or clenching (also known as bruxism) or by suddenly biting down on a hard piece of food, like a crab shell or cherry pit.

One thing to be aware of is that often what feels like a big chip or really rough area is much smaller than you think. It just feels very strange because it’s a new sensation you’re not used to. If it’s just annoying, but not painful, you don’t need to rush to the dentist. That being said, you should get it checked out to make sure the damage won’t lead to infection or decay deep within the tooth. If it’s just superficial damage your dentist may be able to help by smoothing out the rough spot or repairing it with a cosmetic bonding treatment.

You have a toothache

Toothaches are probably the most common complaint we hear from patients at Towson Smile Care. There are a few different kinds of toothaches though:

  • Coming-and-going - You feel pain when eating, drinking, chewing, or tasting sweet, hot, or cold foods. This is often a sign of tooth decay.

  • After you brush/floss - You feel discomfort around the gum line after you finish brushing and flossing. This might be a sign of possible gum disease. You should make an appointment for a periodontal assessment.

  • INTENSE & CONSTANT - If you’re experiencing the worst toothache of your life, and if it’s accompanied by fever, swelling, or pus, you need to see a doctor. This might be an infection that needs antibiotics. Left untreated it can be VERY serious.

  • Intense Pain followed by Tenderness just to Chewing - you may notice a blister on the gum around the affected tooth.  This  situation should be evaluated by your dentist to determine if the tooth nerve has died and the infection has found a way out of the body.  This tooth will need treatment and should be seen to before it compromises the surrounding bone and neighboring teeth.

Tip: A drop of clove oil applied to your tooth/gum is a natural pain reliever that can help reduce pain before you can see a dentist.


Your jaw hurts or is making noise

Family needs dental help at Towson Smile Care

Have you ever felt tension or pain in your jaw that makes it painful to chew or open/close your mouth? Maybe you even hear a crackling or popping sound in your jaw? You might be suffering from inflammation of your jaw joint, also known as TMJ disorder or TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfunction).  In most cases, there’s a trigger for the symptoms, like stress. Iif you find yourself suffering from chronic jaw pain, your dentist can help. A mouthguard to prevent jaw clenching and grinding can reduce or even eliminate pain in your jaw.  Sometimes you might even have an episode that is extremely painful and may be accompanied by severe headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, back pain, neck pain, inability to open or close, and other neurological symptoms.  If you experience these symptoms you should be evaluated by a dentist immediately.

You’re tired all the time

Believe it or not, chronic drowsiness and mental fogginess can be rooted in your dental health. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition affecting as many as 20 million people! Sleep apnea is caused by obstructions in the airway or weakness in the airway that prevents you from breathing while asleep. You may wake up hundreds of times each night without realizing it.

You may be at risk for sleep apnea if:

  1. You’ve been told you snore

  2. You’re a man over 40 years of age

  3. You’re overweight

  4. You smoke or drink to excess

  5. You have a family history of sleep apnea

  6. You have a large neck size

Talk to your dentist if you’re worried about sleep apnea. There are a variety of treatment options available. You can get the healthy restful sleep you need!


Need help from a great dentist?

Schedule your appointment at Towson Smile Care. We can help with everything from toothaches to TMJ pain and anything in between. We’re ready to help you!