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A dental emergency can arise at any time and place. These emergencies can be a loose crown, fractured tooth, or even a toothache. Many homes and even cars have

Dental First Aid Marielaina Perrone DDS

Be Prepared For The Entire Family With A Dental First Aid Kit.

emergency first aid kits in case of a medical emergency. Most do not even think twice about dental emergencies until they happen. Are you prepared for a dental emergency?

Items To Include in a Dental First Aid Kit

Pain Medication. This can include Motrin or Aleve. Just something to relieve the pain until you can see your dentist for better pain relief. Do not use aspirin as this will inhibit clotting.

Cotton or Gauze pads. These come in handy if there is any bleeding from an injury or even to have the patient bite down on to relieve some of the pressure. It also comes in handy if you have irritation from your braces or a denture. You can place the cotton or gauze in between the appliance and the sore to relive some of the discomfort.

Wax. Another handy item to cover up areas of irritation like orthodontic brackets or wires.

Floss. This can come in handy to remove food debris that gets lodged between teeth and beneath the gums that cause pain and discomfort.

“Save A Tooth” System. This is for transporting teeth that have fallen out so that you have a better chance for long term survival once re implanted.

Teabags. These are great for stopping bleeding following oral surgery or even a trauma in the mouth. Research suggests that bags containing tea from the plant camellia sinensis is better than herbal tea for this purpose. Tea bags may also be soothing if you bite your lip, cheek, or tongue.

Denture Adhesive Paste. This can be used even if you do not have dentures. In addition to using it to secure dentures, it can also be used to temporarily secure a crown or bridge that has fallen out. A good example of this is Fixodent.

Dental First Aid Kit Marielaina Perrone DDSTemporary filling material. This material tends to work better than wax for temporary replacement of a missing filling.

Dental Mirror and Spatula. The mirror can come in handy if the emergency is back in the mouth and the spatula is necessary for using any temporary filling material in the mouth.

Instant Ice Packs. These packs can come in handy if there is any trauma to the mouth or face.

Topical Anesthetic. This can give temporary relief for denture sores, gum irritation, cold sores, canker sores, or sores from simply biting your lip, tongue, or cheek.

-Packets of Salt. These can be helpful if rinsing is necessary, as salt water helps clean and irrigate out wounds.

Package of Colgate Wisps. This handy dental hygiene tool acts as toothbrush as well as a toothpick. These can help remove foreign objects lodged between your teeth.

Orabase. A paste used for healing canker sores or sore mouths.

Dentist Contact Information. Most dentists can be reached after hours via an emergency telephone line.

Dental First Aid Conclusion

All of the items listed above are readily available in most homes as well as drug stores. You can make a kit for at home and in your car for on the road. You never know when a dental emergency might arise and this kit can be a life saver or should I say tooth saver! As always visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings as well as for follow up to any at home dental emergency.

 


Medications are any chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, or prevention of disease. It can also be used as a supplement to enhance a person’s physical or mental well being.

Over the course of our lives we will all, most likely, take some form of medication. The medications can just be a simple over the counter pain reliever or something prescribed by your physician for a more serious medical condition. Did you know many of these medications also affect your oral health?

Prescribed and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements can all cause oral health issues. Some of these issues include, dry mouth, inflammation, overgrowth of the gums, changes in taste and bone loss.

Oral Health Side Effects of Medications

Some of the most common oral health side effects include:

1) Xerostomia or Dry Mouth. Medications that can cause dry mouth by decreasing salivary flow include: antihistamines, decongestants,  high blood pressure medications, medicine for Parkinson’s disease, pain medication, and antidepressants. There are hundreds of medications that list dry mouth as a side effect. Xerostomia is quite common,and needs to be monitored for your oral health to be maintained. Without proper salivary flow, you will be more likely to develop more tooth cavities and periodontal infections.

Tips to Combat Dry Mouth

-Drink lots of water throughout the day to keep your mouth wet and moist. This will also help to rinse your mouth throughout the day to minimize tooth decay and bacteria buildup.

-Stop using or cut down on caffeinated drinks, sugary beverages, alcohol, and tobacco. All of these contribute to dry mouth.

-Chew gum to promote salivary production. Recommend a sugarless gum or one with xylitol.

-Avoid salty and spicy foods. This can not only dry you out further but cause some discomfort as you are unable to wash the spices away as quickly without the proper amount of saliva.

-Use a humidifier at bedtime. Many people feel this helps to keep their mouths moist through the night.  Works well for mouth breathers.

-Use an artificial saliva rinse, and dry mouth specific products. These will allow you to keep your mouth moist and avoid the problems mentioned above. Biotene is a good example of such products.

2) Abnormal bleeding. Medications known as blood thinners can cause prolonged bleeding of tissues in your mouth. These include aspirin and anticoagulants (such as Heparin). These medications work by lowering the ability of the blood to form clots. They are helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes but they can cause excessive bleeding especially during any type of oral surgery, or even after a deep cleaning. It is therefore very important to tell your doctor or dentist if you are taking this type of medications.

3) Change in taste. Many drugs can give you a metallic or bitter taste. While others can totally change the way you perceive taste of different foods. Some good examples of these medicines are as follows:

-Heart medications. Such as beta blockers or calcium channel blockers.

-Flagyl (metronidazole). This is an antibiotic.

-Nicotine skin patches. These patches are used for people who want to quit smoking.

The only option for these patients usually is to deal with the side effects of the medication or ask your physician if there is some other medication that can work in its place.

4) Inflammation, gum overgrowth, mouth sores, or changes in color of the soft tissues in your mouth. These can include blood pressure medications, immunosuppressive drugs, oral contraceptives, and some chemotherapy drugs. If you are having issues with these drugs let your dentist know. You may need to increase your oral hygiene regimen to maintain a healthy mouth.

5) Tooth Cavities. Various medications contain sugar. Many children’s medications have a high amount of sugar in them to improve taste. Too much sugar as we know can lead to tooth cavities. Sugar can also be found in cough drops, antacid tablets, anti fungal lozenges, and many vitamins.

Tips to help lower risk of tooth decay from medications:

-Take the medications at mealtimes, not at bedtime.

-Drink water after taking medications.

-Make you or your children brush or chew sugarless (or xylitol) gum after taking the medication.

-Visit your dentist regularly for dental care.

6) Bone loss. Medications such as corticosteroids (like prednisone) and anti-epilepsy drugs can lead to bone loss. Medications used in the treatment of osteoporosis (bisphosphanates) can lead to a rare condition called osteonecrosis of the jawbone. This results in destruction of the bone. Symptoms can include painful, inflamed gums, loos teeth, jaw numbness, fluid in the gums or jaw, and bone that becomes exposed.

If you are taking medications for osteoporosis be sure to tell your dentist. The dentist may be able to prescribe you an antibiotic or non steroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID) to slow your bone loss.

7) Thrush, or an oral yeast infection. Thrush is caused by a fungus (Candida) and shows up in the mouth as white and red lesions on the tongue and/or surrounding tissues. Taking antibiotics, steroids, or going through chemotherapy can cause thrush. The general course of attack in dentistry is to recommend anti fungal mouthwashes or lozenges. If that does not work, then a stronger anti fungal medication will be needed.

Bottom Line on Medications and Your Oral Health

All of the medications listed above generally serve a greater purpose for the maintenance of your overall health. Therefore these side effects from medications must be dealt with, as we cannot just stop taking these medications. This is why it is so important to be open and honest to all your physicians and dentists letting them know everything you are taking. Your treatment may need to be altered or monitored closely by your dentist. You may not realize the impact your specific medications may have on your oral condition, but your caretakers do.

Dry socket (also called alveolar osteitis) is an extremely painful dental condition that can occur after removal (extraction) of a permanent adult tooth.

Having a tooth removed is generally not something anyone looks forward to. Most people understand there will be some level of discomfort following the procedure.  Many are given a prescription for pain medication before leaving their dentist. Most people in fact do not even need to get the prescription filled. However, when a patient experiences what is called a dry socket the pain can become quite intense and linger for days.

Very few people are affected by dry socket. The development of Dry socket after a tooth extraction occurs in only about 2-3% of patients. For those who experience dry socket it can be a very scary experience. Fortunately dry socket is treatable.

A dry socket occurs when the blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction has never fully formed, has broken free, or has dissolved before the wound has had a chance to fully heal. The blood clot is the protective layer for the underlying bone and nerves, it begins the process of healing so that gum tissue and bone can refill the area. When the clot is gone the bone and nerves are now exposed to the outside air, food, fluid, and anything else that enters the mouth. This can lead to a dry socket with sharp, aching pain that can last for 5-6 days, and in the case of a patient taking fosamax type drugs the pain can last for weeks.

A dry socket is considered the most common complication following tooth extractions. It happens more frequently with extraction of impacted wisdom teeth, in patients with poor blood flow to the socket, (smokers, patients taking fosamax), delayed healing (diabetics ).  The pain begins to build and develop about 2-4 days following the procedure.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Socket

Signs and symptoms of dry socket may include:

-Sharp, aching pain within 2-4 days after a tooth removal.

explanation of dry socket

Graphic explanation of dry socket…image courtesy of Dental Care Matters

-Partial or total loss of the blood clot at the tooth extraction site. You would be able to visually notice a deep hole or space where tooth used to be, that weeps fluid when pressed vs a blood clot overlaying the site.

-Bone that is visible upon visual examination in the socket

-Pain that radiates from the socket to your ear, eye, temple or neck on the same side of your face as the extraction

-Abnormally bad breath or a foul odor emanating from your mouth. This will coincide with having a bad taste in your mouth as well.

-If you have swollen lymph nodes around your jaw or neck, this is a sign of infection and you need to be seen by your dentist immediately.

Over the counter medications by themselves will not control the symptoms. Your dentist or oral surgeon will need to begin treatments to lessen pain and allow for healing to take place.

Treatment of Dry Socket

Taking a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID – aspirin or ibuprofen) can help to ease the pain but probably will not be enough to take it away completely. When the pain persists you should call your dentist immediately. The dentist may prescribe you a stronger pain medication to allow the pain to subside for you or give you anesthesia in the office to relieve some of the symptoms for a little while anyway.

paste for dry socket

Paste for Dry Socket

What will your dentist need to do for the dry socket? Your dentist will need to numb and clean the tooth socket. This will allow for  removal of any debris from the space where the tooth once was, and allow for rebleeding into the site. The dentist may then fill the socket with a medicated dressing or a special paste to promote healing and soothe the symptoms. Patients with dry socket dressings generally need to come back to be seen by the dentist every day until the pain subsides. The dressing needs to be changed daily. Warm cloth on the outside of the face also helps promote blood flow.

An antibiotic may also be prescribed at this point to prevent an infection from forming. At home care will include rinsing with salt water and being careful what you eat and how you eat it, ( avoiding the side where the dry socket is ).

The site will usually heal completely following treatment in 1-2 weeks.

Who is most likely to get a Dry Socket?

Some patients will be more likely than others to get a dry socket after a tooth extraction. These include the following:

Smokers. Patients who smoke have twice the chance of developing dry socket over those who do not. Smoking also is believed to slow the healing process.

Poor Oral Hygiene. Those with poor oral hygiene will have an increased risk due to the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Will be difficult to maintain a sterile field when removing tooth.

Having wisdom teeth (3rd molars) extracted. Increased trauma to area during procedure is one of the indicators for increasing the possibility for the development of dry socket. 3rd molars tend to be more difficult to remove especially if they are fully or partially impacted.

Previous history of dry socket. If you have had dry socket previously, you are more likely to develop it after another extraction.

Use of birth control pills. Contraceptives which contain estrogen effect the blood clotting system of the body. So we see an increased incidence in dry socket in patients on oral contraceptives.

Rinsing and spitting a lot or smoking after having a tooth extracted also can increase your risk of getting dry socket. These activities will increase chances of the blood clot becoming dislodged.

Following the removal of a tooth it is very important to follow all instructions given to you by your dentist. If you are unsure of anything you must ask or call back. At first sign of pain or discomfort call your dentist to be sure it is not something more serious. As always, maintain a regular schedule visiting your dentist, as well as keeping an open communication with your dentist. This will make you feel comfortable asking questions and knowing you are getting the proper information to care for your oral health.