Choose Your Own Adventure: Dental Health Edition

by | Feb 20, 2020 | Dental Advice

Who’s ready for a pop quiz? It’s time to find out how much you know about your dental health.

Here are 5 common scenarios. How would you react?

Your teenage child is playing in a basketball game. She gets a tooth knocked out while hustling for a rebound.

Do you…

A. Not worry about it too much. Once a tooth is knocked out it’s lost for good.

WRONGWith prompt care, saving a knocked-out tooth is very possible. Don’t ignore the problem and don’t delay. Getting treatment ASAP is essential.

B. Grab the tooth, put it in a cup, and call your dentist.

WRONG – This might seem like a good idea, but there’s actually a better option that increases the likelihood of saving the tooth.

C. Gently pick the tooth up by the crown, rinse it off, put it back into the socket, and call your dentist.

CORRECT – Avoid touching the tooth’s root. Rinse it with water and gently place it back into the socket. This is called “re-implantation” and greatly increases the chance of the tooth’s long-term survival. Call your dentist and get seen for an emergency appointment ASAP.

Note: This is only applicable for teeth that remain in one piece. If the process is at any point painful, stop.

You were enjoying a few pistachios and accidentally bit down on a shell. Your front tooth feels sharp and rough but there’s no pain and you can’t really see a difference when you look in the mirror. 

Should you:

A. Call an emergency dentist right away.

WRONG – If there’s no pain and the tooth isn’t visibly cracked or shattered, it’s not usually a true dental emergency. You’ll want to get it checked out, but don’t stress too much.

B. Ignore it and see if the tooth starts to hurt over the next few days.

WRONGA wait-and-see approach can lead to serious dental pain and then you’ll have a real dental emergency on your hands. Even a small crack can allow bacteria to enter the tooth, causing a painful infection.

C. Call your dentist and let them know what happened.

CORRECT – In most cases, a small chip or crack is a cosmetic issue. But the only way to know for sure is to get it checked out. If the sharp edge is irritating your tongue or causing other problems, it might be worth having it smoothed down a little or even repaired with a cosmetic veneer.

Ouch! You’re flossing your teeth before bed. When you spit in the sink you notice a bit of blood. This has been happening on-and-off for the past few weeks. 

Do you…

A. Skip flossing for a few days to give your mouth a chance to heal.

WRONGFlossing is an integral part of your at-home dental health routine. Food easily gets trapped between teeth and letting it linger there is a sure path to tooth decay and gum disease. Plus, you might already be at risk of gum disease because of your experience with painful and bleeding gums.

B. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water and keep flossing like normal.

WRONG – Rinsing with warm saline (salt water) is a good way to relieve minor mouth pain, but it’s not a great idea in this situation. You’ve got a case of chronically bleeding gums and just relieving the pain isn’t enough. You need to identify the root cause of the issue before it gets worse!

C. Call your dentist and schedule a gum disease evaluation.

CORRECT – If this was the first time you noticed blood in the sink, it’s probably not something to worry about. Everybody flosses a little too hard or has a sensitive spot once in awhile. But since this has been an ongoing problem, it’s worth getting checked out. Bleeding gums is a common sign of gum disease and gum disease is the #1 preventable cause of tooth loss in adults. Don’t become a statistic! We offer minimally-invasive gum disease treatments designed with your lifelong health in mind.

It’s Saturday night and you’re out getting gelato. As soon as you begin to enjoy your first scoop, a sharp pain shoots deep in one of your molars. It’s intense but fades quickly. You remember a similar sensation when you had a hot cup of soup for lunch at work last week. Your next dental exam isn’t scheduled until 2 months from now. 

Should you…

A. Use Sensodyne or another toothpaste for sensitive teeth and hope it doesn’t hurt anymore.

WRONGToothpastes that are designed for sensitive teeth can be helpful, but it’s a good idea to ask your dentist first. This might be another case of covering up the symptom when the true cause is still unresolved.

B. Avoid the foods that cause you pain and just chew on the other side of your mouth.

WRONGAvoiding the issue won’t make it better! It’s very common for people to favor one side of the mouth when the other is in pain. If you catch yourself doing this, schedule a visit to the dentist ASAP.

C. Move up your check-up and see your dentist.

CORRECT – Tooth sensitivity, particularly to hot and cold temperatures, is a common symptom of tooth decay. If caught early enough a small filling can fix the cavity. But if you wait, a root canal and crown might be required to repair the damage.

There’s a big meeting coming up at work, you’re about to close on a new home, and your grandmother is in the hospital. You’ve noticed that when you wake up in the mornings, your jaw is tense, achy, and sore. Plus, you’re having trouble staying awake during the day.

Do you…

A. Chalk it up to stress and treat yourself to a relaxing spa day.

WRONGWell, maybe it’s not the worst idea, but there could be a bigger issue at play. Ongoing pain in the jaw can be a sign of inflammation of the jaw joint known as TMJ.

B. Wait it out. Take a sleeping pill before bed and see if you feel more rested in the morning.

WRONG – Jaw pain caused by TMJ disorder is commonly triggered by stress and often goes away on its own, especially if you find a way to destress. But the daytime sleepiness is a bigger concern. Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing at night without realizing it! You’ll never get the rest you need and the health consequences can be severe. It may even be dangerous to take prescription sleep medications with undiagnosed sleep apnea. 

C. Ask your dentist about the possibility of TMJ or sleep apnea.

CORRECT – Your dentist can help with a variety of health problems and TMJ and sleep apnea are both potentially painful and serious. TMJ is commonly triggered by stress and can result in painful aches in the jaw and mouth. Sleep apnea is often a chronic condition that affects sleep quality and leads to daytime drowsiness. Your dentist can evaluate your risk and help you find a solution that relieves your symptoms.

You’ve read this blog post. Now you know what to do if you’re faced with tooth pain and other common dental health problems.

Is it time to…

A. Schedule an appointment at Ellicott City Smile Care?

CORRECT – Give us a call at (410) 964-9816 and come see what we’re all about. Don’t forget to ask about our $69 new patient special!

B. Share this blog post on Facebook

CORRECT – Great idea! See if your friends are as savvy about their dental health as you are. Make sure to tag us.

C. Leave us an online review

CORRECT – If you’re already one of our valued patients, we’d love to hear what you think about us. Click here to review us on Google!

 Dr. Stephen Levy

Dr. Stephen Levy

Dr. Levy graduated cum laude from SUNY at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and trained in a General Practice residency at New York Medical College. He is a member of a number of dental organizations, including the Buffalo-based dental volunteer outreach program, B.O.C.A. Dr. Levy is dedicated to providing the highest quality of patient care with the most up-to-date, advanced dental technologies.