Dental Emergencies for Seniors: Emergency Dental Care for the Elderly in Lincoln, NE

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Emergencies for Seniors:
Dental Emergencies for Seniors

Nebraska Family Dentistry

Dental emergencies for seniors are common due to the high risk elderly patients have of infection and complications from dental problems.  It is important to recognize the signs of a dental emergencies for seniors and seek emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE for treatment as soon as possible.

Below are the most common dental problems that lead to dental emergencies for seniors.

Elderly woman example for dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE


Toothaches can be caused by moderately sized cavities or from exposed dentin. Patients can take ibuprofen and Tylenol to help manage their discomfort. If there is swelling, a cold pack can be applied to help reduce swelling until the patient can receive treatment.

If the toothache only occurs when the tooth is exposed to cold liquids, it is likely dentinal hypersensitivity. Although this condition is reversible, it is a good idea to see a dentist to rule out anything more serious. Clove oil can be applied to temporarily relieve some of the sensitivity until a patient can see their dental provider and receive emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE.

broken filling about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

Broken Filling or Crown

Broken fillings or crowns are common conditions that can lead to dental emergencies for seniors. Over time, dental work can wear out and chip or break off. This can become serious if bacteria enters the inner part of the tooth and the tooth becomes infected. Until they can be seen by a dentist for emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE, wax can be placed into the broken part of the tooth to help cover any sharp edges. They may take over the counter anti-inflammatories and apply clove oil if the tooth is sensitive.

Cracked tooth about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

Cracked or Broken Tooth

Cracks and fractures can occur from hard foods or an accident such as a fall. Not all fractures are serious or require emergency treatment, but if the area is causing pain, patients should see a dentist for emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE as soon as possible. They may take ibuprofen and tylenol as needed to manage pain until they can be treated. If a large piece of the tooth broke off and they still have the fragment, it can be placed in milk or water and brought to the dental appointment. If there is bleeding where the tooth was fractured, light pressure may be applied with clean gauze or cloth. Ice packs can be applied to reduce any swelling of the face.

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Broken Denture

Depending on the severity of the damage, our lab may be able to repair the denture within 24 hours. If the denture is damaged beyond repair, they may need a new denture.

If they are unable to see a dentist immediately, they may purchase a denture repair kit at a pharmacy. This will temporarily hold the denture together until permanent repairs can be made. Trying to repair a denture at home does pose some risk to damaging it further, so if they can wait until their dental appointment, it is generally better to have it repaired professionally.

infected tooth illustration about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

Dental Abscess or Infection

Infections are a common condition that can lead to dental emergencies for seniors. Signs are severe pain or swelling. It is important to call a dental office to schedule an emergency appointment to receive emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE as soon as possible. Use ice to help reduce swelling, but avoid using heat. Heat will intensify the pain. If you notice a pimple on the gum tissue near the tooth, you may drain it using a sterile needle. This will temporarily relieve the pressure. Give the patient  ibuprofen and tylenol until their appointment to control the inflammation and pain.

missing tooth illustration about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

Loose or Dislodged Permanent Tooth

Loose or dislodged teeth are common causes of dental emergencies for seniors due to limited mobility and risk of falling.Try to handle the dislodged tooth only by the crown (white part) to avoid damaging it further. Rinse it using water, milk or saline. You may reinsert the tooth into the socket. Once it is in place, the patient may gently bite against a piece of gauze to keep the tooth stable. If you are unable to reinsert the tooth, place it in milk to keep it viable until you arrive a the dental office. Be sure the patient sees a dentist as soon as possible.

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Bleeding Gums

Due to limited dexterity from arthritis, problems with the gums and bone around the teeth can lead to dental emergencies for seniors. Bleeding gums when brushing can be a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Abrasion of the gum tissue from brushing aggressively or eating crunchy foods can cause bleeding gums. If the gums do not heal within 1-2 weeks, you may need to make a dental appointment for emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE to examine the area.

The best way to avoid dental emergencies is by receiving routine dental care. It is important to have a dental exam at least twice a year to make sure teeth and gums stay healthy.

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10 Most common dental conditions that affect the elderly population

Gingivitis example about dental emergencies in Lincoln, NE

#1 Gingivitis

More than 500 different species of bacteria can be found in the oral cavity. Many of these bacteria are necessary to maintain health. When an imbalance of good and bad bacteria occurs, the body responds by creating inflammation. In the mouth, this usually presents with red, swollen gums. Usually with regular professional cleanings and improvements in daily plaque removal, this inflammation can be resolved.

Tooth Decay and periodontal disease about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#2 Chronic Periodontitis

If the inflammation in the gums goes untreated and become chronic, the bone which surrounds the teeth can be compromised. This leads to tooth mobility and eventually tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. This condition typically has very few symptoms, and does not hurt until it is in the very advanced stages. Treatment for this condition includes a deep cleaning under local anesthesia followed by regular maintenance cleanings every 3-4 months to control the inflammation and stabilize bone levels. If patients have already lost significant bone around teeth, replacing teeth is necessary. Patients would benefit from taking a probiotic to help regulate the balance of good and bad bacteria in the body as well as supplementation of vitamin D if needed. Avoiding refined sugar in the diet, staying hydrated and quitting tobacco products will help improve immune function and positively impact periodontal disease.

Tooth Decay xray about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#3 Dental emergency in elderly Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a common condition that leads to dental emergencies for seniors. Geriatric patients often take a variety of medications for pre-existing medical conditions. Many of these medications cause dry mouth. Saliva is one of the body’s natural protective mechanisms for the teeth. It contains enzymes which neutralize acids from the food we eat, maintaining an ideal pH level in the mouth to support enamel strength.

As we age, muscles in the face lose elasticity. This prevents a natural self-cleansing mechanism of the muscles moving against the teeth while we chew from occuring. This results in food particles becoming trapped against teeth and contributes to tooth decay.

Patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may have difficulty remembering to brush and floss their teeth, leading to cavities.

Patients with a history of bone loss around the teeth may have exposed root surfaces. This part of the tooth’s structure is more porous and susceptible to tooth decay. Arthritis causes limited dexterity in the hands, make brushing and flossing difficult.

The solution to this is improving oral hygiene habits, avoiding excessively sugary foods or drinks between meals, using fluoride mouthrinses and visiting a dental provider regularly for checkups and cleanings.

Elderly man with bad breath looking for about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#4 Halitosis (Bad Breath)

There are a number of different reasons why patients may suffer from chronic halitosis. Failing dental restorations with recurrent decay or infection, chronic gum disease from an overpopulation of harmful bacteria, stomach or GI issues, dehydration and poor oral hygiene are all common causes. Patients should see a dental provider regularly for checkups and cleanings to rule out tooth-related causes. If halitosis persists, they should see their physician to rule out any systemic causes.

Oral Thrush example about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#5 Candida or Oral Thrush

This is a fungal infection caused by overgrowth of candida albicans. It is more likely for patients with reduced immune function. Severe cases can be treated with antifungal medications. Milder cases may be managed with probiotics and coconut or sesame oil-pulling.

broken dentures example about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#6 Poorly-fitting Dentures

When patients have had teeth removed, the bone in the jaw begins to dissolve over time. This causes dentures to stop fitting properly. Patients with poorly fitting dentures have difficulty chewing and speaking. Reduced chewing makes eating healthy foods difficult, which has a negative impact on managing other health problems or preventing inflammatory conditions.

Red Tongue glossitis about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#7 Red and Ulcerated Soft Tissue Under Poorly-Fitting Denture

Movement and rocking of a poorly-fitting denture during chewing causes sores and allows food to become trapped underneath the denture and irritate the soft tissues during meals. Patients with poorly fitting dentures should see a dentist to make adjustments to their denture or place a more permanent tooth replacement option for them.

painful red tongue example about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#8 Red Tongue (glossitis)

A shiny, painful red tongue may indicate that a patient has a vitamin B12, folic acid or iron deficiency. It can be related to other medical conditions as well like the herpes virus, undiagnosed celiac disease or allergies to medications.

Non healing Mouth Sores examples about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#9 Non-healing Mouth Sores

This could be from a chronic source of irritation like a poorly-fitting denture or something more serious like oral cancer. Sores that do not show improvement or healing in two weeks should be evaluated for a biopsy.

Angular Chelitis exmample about dental emergencies for seniors in Lincoln, NE

#10 Cracked, Dry Skin in Corners of Mouth or Angular Chelitis

This can be from an overgrowth of candida, inflammation from bacteria or vitamin B or iron-deficiency from poor nutritional absorption. The cause should be evaluated by a physician.

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CAQs for Dental Emergencies for Senior

Can you have a tooth pulled if it is infected?

Yes, in some cases, having the infected tooth removed is the best solution to eliminate the infection. Some teeth are eligible for root canal treatment. Each tooth should be evaluated and options carefully considered before making a decision.

What is the best painkiller for a toothache?

Studies show that the main cause of toothache is inflammation causing swelling of soft tissue to press against the nerves of the jaw and face. It is one of the most common conditions that leads to dental emergencies for seniors. The best way to reduce pain is to reduce inflammation. This can be done by taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen combined with Tylenol to help control pain. In some cases, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the infection. This can help reduce symptoms until you receive dental treatment.

What can I do for severe tooth pain?

You may start by alternating doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol as well as calling your dentist for emergency dental care for elderly in Lincoln, NE to schedule an appointment. You can apply clove oil to the area as a temporary natural pain reliever as well.

How do I get my teeth to stop hurting?

Make an appointment with your dentist to evaluate the condition of your teeth. Once everything is healthy, your teeth will no longer hurt. Until your appointment, take over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and Tylenol. Tooth pain is a sign of a moderate to advanced dental condition. Usually it is a sign that you need immediate emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE.

How long does it take for ibuprofen to kick in?

Some people start feeling better less than 15 minutes after taking their dose. Ibuprofen has a half-life of two hours, making it more effective during the first two hours. Usually people feel better by 30 minutes to an hour into their first dose.

Can I go to Urgent Care for a toothache?

Yes, if you are unable to reach your emergency dentist for the elderly in Lincoln, NE or you have significant swelling or pain that you cannot control with over-the-counter pain relievers you can go to urgent care. They cannot treat your dental condition, but they can give you antibiotics and help control any infection and pain until you can receive dental treatment.

Can you go to the emergency room for a severe toothache?

Dental emergencies for seniors sometimes include severe pain or swelling of the face. If you are experiencing this and are unable to reach your dentist for emergency care, you should proceed to the emergency room or walk-in clinic. If you have a tooth infection that has abscessed, this can become life-threatening if it is not controlled with antibiotics.

Is a tooth abscess considered a dental emergency?

Yes, especially if you notice pain or swelling. Another sign is that the area near the tooth along the gums may have a pimple that has formed and is now draining. This type of infection can become life-threatening without treatment. You should call your dentist for emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE.

How do you know if you have a tooth infection?

The symptoms of an abscessed tooth are a severe, throbbing toothache that radiates to the jaw, neck or ear. Cold and hot sensitivity, sensitivity to biting pressure, fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or swollen face.

What can I do for a tooth abscess at home?

Until you can receive dental treatment for your condition, you can take alternating doses of Tylenol and Ibuprofen to manage the pain. You can apply a cold compress if you have swelling. Try to avoid using heat packs as heat has a tendency to increase pain symptoms.

What can I do for a broken filling?

You can place dental wax over the tooth to smooth the sharp edges and cover the sensitive inner part of your tooth until your dental appointment. Try not to chew on the broken tooth to avoid getting food stuck in the area. Be sure to schedule an appointment to receive emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE.

How do I treat my dental abscess (fistula) at home?

A dental abscess is caused from a buildup of bacteria that has caused an infection around the roots of the tooth. There is no home remedy that can help this condition besides taking over-the-counter pain relievers and calling your emergency dentist as soon as possible. Sometimes infected teeth do not hurt if a fistula has formed that is draining. This looks like a small pimple on the gums above the tooth. When this happens, sometimes your dentist can save the tooth by performing root canal therapy. If the tooth is badly infected, it may be best to remove it.

Where can I find the best root canal dentist in Lincoln, NE?

There are many providers who can offer emergency dental treatment for dental emergencies for seniors, including root canal therapy. When you choose your root canal dentist, it is important to find one who carefully selects eligible teeth for root canals. Some teeth have large infection that is unable to be eliminated by root canal therapy and have a poor prognosis. To read more about root canal therapy or request an appointment with our gentle root canal dentists in Lincoln, NE, follow the link below:

Where can I find emergency dental care for seniors near me?

We have several locations throughout the city that offer emergency dental care for the elderly in Lincoln, NE.  Follow the link below to find one of our locations near you.

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Dr. Michael Burbach

The information in this article is written by Dr. Michael Burbach. This Lincoln, NE dentist is compassionate about helping patients of all ages and provides quality family dentistry and is considered to be an expert on providing dental care for seniors. This Lincoln, NE dentist is highly experienced in treating dental emergencies in seniors and treating all common conditions in elderly patients.  Dr. Michael Burbach has extensive experience in making dentures, partials, replacing teeth with dental bridges and doing preventive cleanings.

Dr. Michael Burbach practices at the North location (Northstar Dental) of Nebraska Family Dentistry

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