Dental Emergencies

Did you know which part of your body is most vulnerable to damage because of road accidents and sports related injuries? It’s your face! Just like medical emergencies, dental injuries need to be taken care of immediately as well. Failure to attend to them can result in severe damage to your face, head or even loss of your teeth. Let’s have a look at what dental emergencies are, how we can avoid them and how to manage them.

What is a dental emergency?

It is not possible to create a definitive checklist of dental emergencies. Whether a given situation needs immediate reaction or not can best be decided by dental experts. Hence, whenever in doubt, it is safer to consult a dentist. Only a dentist or oral surgeon can determine whether immediate treatment is required, and then provide appropriate treatment. If you cannot reach a dentist quickly, at least you can contact one on telephone and seek advice after describing what you observe.

Teeth Have  Fillings  Too!  

Teeth Have Fillings Too!  

Dental emergencies are not confined to teeth only. Many injuries to your gums, tongue, cheeks, palate, and lips need to be treated by a dentist. Some of the things which constitute a dental emergency are:

  • One or more knocked out teeth
  • Accidentally displaced tooth or teeth
  • Loosened teeth
  • Fractured teeth
  • Injured lip
  • Injured gum
  • Injured cheek
  • Injured inside palate
  • Dislodged fixed or removable dentures

How soon should a dental emergency be treated?

Whenever you feel that you or anyone around you is having a dental emergency, get to a nearby hospital or dentist immediately. You cannot tell whether a delay will be tolerable or not. As mentioned earlier a delay can mean the difference between recovery and loss of a natural tooth.

What Should you do In Case of Dental Emergencies?

Here are certain steps you can take which will help minimize pain and damage. In all cases call the doctor for an emergency appointment, and in the meantime, follow the advice below.

Knocked-out Tooth/Teeth

Do the following actions roughly in the same sequence:

  • Don’t Touch your Tooth! – Avoid touching the tooth by root. Hold it by the crown. Touching the root with your hands (or any other appliance) can cause bone cells and make reattachment difficult.
  • Rinsing – Rinse it in milk or clean water gently to remove any dirt. Do not scrub (for the same reason as above)
  • Try to Re-insert – After cleaning it gently try to re-insert it in the socket. This will keep it moist and preserve the bone cells against death.
  • Preservation –Wrap the tooth in clean gauze or cloth and keep it immersed in saliva or milk.


Tooth forced out of position

After a trauma, if you feel that a tooth has moved from its position, do the following:

  • Apply Pressure – With a light pressure of clean fingers try to reposition the tooth back in place and alignment. Avoid excessive force.
  • Bite down on it – This will also help in better realignment and keep the tooth from moving. 

Fractured tooth

It is not uncommon to get your teeth partially or completely fractured because of trauma. Mostly, this happens because of a head-on collision due a road traffic accident or during contact sports. If you feel that you have fractured a tooth, do the following:

  • Rinse – Rinse the mouth with clean, warm water
  • Compression – In a few moments when the mouth inner temperature has normalized, apply cold compress or ice pack on the outside of the lip or check. This will reduce or avoid swelling.
  • Pain-relief – Use a pain killer if necessary. Avoid aspirin. An anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen is best.  Make sure you eat before taking medications. 
  • Visit your Dentist – Reach the dentist or act on his or her advice.

Dental Management of Different Types of Teeth Fractures

Teeth fractures can be categorized as minor, moderate, or severe. Only the dentist can tell whether it is ‘minor’ or ‘severe, and then take the appropriate action.

  • Minor Fractures – A minor fracture can be left alone, smoothed, or restored with a composite. Your dentist will decide after an examination.
  • Moderate Fractures – A moderate fracture involves damage to the enamel (the covering on the visible part), the dentin (the outer layer of the root or part under the gum), and possibly to the pulp inside the tooth.  If the pulp does not suffer permanent damage, the tooth can be restored with a full permanent crown. Damaged pulp needs more treatment.
  • Severe Fracture – A severe fracture is often not repairable. But do not categorize yourself. Let the dentist decide what to do.


Soft Tissue injury

    In case a lip is injured as is often the case when a tooth is accidentally damaged, clean the lip with cold water. If bleeding does not stop press on it with a piece of clean gauze or cotton cloth.  In case of injury to soft tissue inside the mouth, clean with warm water, and try to stop any bleeding by pressing with a piece of clean cotton cloth or gauze. Reach for medical treatment immediately.

    Bleeding from the tongue can also be managed in a similar way.

    Object stuck between teeth or in the gum

    A hard object (like a crushed seed) stuck between adjacent teeth may not be very painful immediately. But believe me, once it starts causing pain, it can become unbearable! If there is something lodged between your teeth, the affected teeth will not bear pressure, gums may get inflamed start aching. To manage it, use a dental floss or a prick to remove it gently. If this is not helpful, go to a dentist without delay.

    Keeping Ready for Dental Emergencies

    Maintain a dental emergency kit as part of the first aid kit. The kit should include:

    ·         Home and office contact of your dentist

    ·         A handkerchief

    ·         Gauze

    ·         A small container along with a lid (for storing a knocked-out tooth)

    ·         Painkiller

    Avoiding dental emergencies

    Dental emergencies can be prevented by taking care of the following:

    • Using a Mouthguard – While participating in physical sport wear a mouthguard. The function of a mouthguard is to protect the teeth and gums from any trauma during sports
    • Avoid Biting Hard Food Items – Avoid cracking (e.g., almonds), or biting on hard things with your teeth. Similarly, eating sticky foods through fixed or removable dentures can result in their dislodgement.
    • Your Teeth are not Your Scissors - Avoid cutting things with your teeth. Use scissors or an appropriate tool.

    Nature has provided you with teeth that are quite strong and durable. If you simply remember to take care of the things mentioned above, you can prevent your teeth from traumatic damage, or at least minimize the damage.

    If you or someone you love experiences a dental emergency, please do not hesitate to call our office immediately (562-430-7310).  We hope you do not experience a dental emergency but if you do, we are here to help.

    Causes and Effects of Crooked Teeth – What Malocclusion Means For Me

    Crooked Teeth Are Very Common But Can Have Negative Health Consequences

    Crooked Teeth Are Very Common But Can Have Negative Health Consequences

    Why Do I Have Crooked Teeth?  Causes of Crooked Teeth

    Simply put, teeth move by the application of gentle, constant pressure.  This is true whether that gentle, constant pressure is being applied on purpose (braces or clear aligners) or naturally (teeth pushing on one another, for example).  If the application of pressure is rapid rather than gentle, it can lead to traumatic dental injury such as when a baseball hits someone in the mouth.  

    So what exactly causes crooked teeth?  Here are the most common culprits:

    ·         Genetics – you can thank your parents and ancestors for this one.  Sometimes you just come from a line of people with crooked teeth or misaligned jaws.

    ·         Early loss of baby or adult teeth which can allow shifting of other teeth;

    ·         Improper fit of dental restorations (for example, fillings or crowns);

    ·         Too small of a jaw to accommodate emerging teeth – this can crowd the teeth and cause them to shift;

    ·         Gingivitis (gum disease) – this can damage the jawbone leading to teeth shifting out of place.  Another reason (not that we needed another one!) why brushing a flossing is so important;

    ·         Misalignment of jaw after severe facial injury – wearing a mouth guard while playing sports can help you avoid tooth injury though not necessarily jaw injuries;

    ·         Thumb sucking – this should be ended early on before this foreign object leads to damage to proper formation of the child’s mouth;

    ·         Pacifier use – same explanation as for thumb sucking.  It should be discontinued before too long.

    Other than appearance, are there any health effects of crooked teeth?  Effects of Crooked Teeth 

    Many individuals believe that having crooked teeth will only affect their appearance and perhaps their self-confidence.   Unfortunately an unsightly appearance is not the only effect of crooked or misaligned teeth.  There are many negative consequences for both your overall and oral health caused by crooked teeth.  Thus, while Americans are often portrayed as being obsessed with straight teeth for only aesthetic reasons, straightening teeth can also help avoid negative health consequences as well.

    Below is a very detailed video from Invisalign which explains the negative health consequences of crooked teeth. 


    ·         Gum disease – this forms when bacteria in our mouths turn into plaque.  This is especially problematic with crooked teeth because sometimes the gums don’t fit securely around your teeth. 

    ·         Problems cleaning your teeth – crooked teeth make it difficult to clean between them using a toothbrush or floss, allowing bacteria to grow and plaque to form. 

    ·         Excessive tooth wear, headaches, jaw pain, difficulty cleaning resulting in higher likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease. 

    ·         Tooth wear – this is especially true with crooked lower teeth which can protrude, or stick out and rub against upper teeth.  With the passage of time, tooth enamel will wear away from the constant unnatural contact.

    ·         Halitosis, or bad breath – for the same reasons explained above (difficult brushing or flossing between them), crooked teeth can mean more bacteria in your teeth which can contribute to bad breath.

    ·         Self-confidence – simply put, the nice your smile the more confident you will be.  This has been proven by multiple studies and makes sense intuitively.  If you are ashamed of your teeth, you are also less likely to smile. 

    ·         Health generally – studies by the ADA confirm a correlation between bad oral health and bad overall health including cardiovascular health and more. 

    ·         Decreases overall health - Few people realize that dental issues can seriously affect more than just their oral health. Studies by the ADA have proven that oral infections caused by bacteria buildup may lead to more serious ailments, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and pneumonia.

    How Can I Fix My Crooked Teeth?

    One extremely popular option for individuals with crooked teeth are Invisalign Clear Aligners.  These are advertised as “The Clear Alternative to Braces” and that is exactly what they are.   Many patients have had their teeth straightened in a much easier, less aesthetically and functionally intruding way than the braces option by using Invisalign aligners.  Patients who use the aligners can wear them while eating, they are barely noticeable and they can be removed and are typically switched out every couple to every few weeks. 

    If you would like more information about Invisalign, you can visit our Invisalign page by clicking on the following link:

    If you have crooked teeth and would like improve both your appearance and health, call our office (562) 430-7310 for a free Invisalign consultation with Dr. Shanna Chirco, a Preferred Invisalign Provider.


    What is the difference between a Cosmetic Dentist and a Restorative Dentist?

    Cosmetic Dentistry Is About The Appearance of Teeth and the Mouth

    Cosmetic Dentistry's Primary Goal is a Great Apperance

    Cosmetic Dentistry's Primary Goal is a Great Apperance

    While many descriptions or categories of dentistry overlap (family dentistry, general dentistry, restorative dentistry, comprehensive dentistry, aesthetic dentistry), cosmetic dentistry is truly focused on the appearance as opposed to the function or health of teeth.    Cosmetic dentistry concerns itself primarily with teeth color, position, shape, size, alignment and overall smile appearance though many procedures that are considered cosmetic can also be restorative.  Aesthetic dentistry is a term that is used interchangeably with cosmetic dentistry. Restorative dentistry is focused on restoring proper oral function and health.  This article will focus primarily on cosmetic and restorative dentistry and some of the basic differences between them.   

    Teeth Whitening Is a Cosmetic Dentistry Procedure

    A great example of cosmetic dentistry is teeth whitening.  This is the most popular and common cosmetic dentistry procedure.  Teeth whitening is a procedure that has no function or health benefit.  It is simply a cosmetic procedure performed to whiten teeth and improve their appearance, without any direct health or function benefit.  There is an argument to be made, however, that whitening a patient’s teeth improves their confidence and this is probably positive for overall health, well-being and certainly mental health.  A more confident person is a happier and healthier person. 

    Dental Veneers Are Considered Both Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry

    Another procedure that is often described as being primarily cosmetic is dental veneers.  They are ultra-thin shells that cover the front surface of teeth to make the teeth look better.  These are bonded to the front surface of teeth changing their color, shape, size or length.  Dental veneers are often used to correct teeth that:

    ·                     Have spaces between them

    ·                     Have become chipped or worn

    ·                     Are permanently stained

    ·                     Are poorly shaped

    ·                     Are slightly crooked

     While most people are impressed by the new and improved aesthetic appearance of teeth after placement of veneers, they too have some restorative functions as well.  For example, they can help stop or reduce teeth sensitivity and can also help with gum care.  Additionally, a veneer can help protect an existing tooth from damage.  Veneers are common among patients that wish to get a whole smile makeover. 

    Dental Crowns Are Considered A Cosmetic Dentistry and Restorative Dentistry Procedure

    Dental crowns fit the bill as being both cosmetic and restorative.   When a dental crown is placed, it replaces the outside of your existing tooth and becomes your tooth’s new surface.  This is often used to cover/restore damaged, decayed or unappealing teeth and restores proper function, spacing and also improves appearance of the tooth significantly. 

    Restorative Dentistry helps to restore your mouth's function and health

    Restorative Dentistry helps to restore your mouth's function and health

    Interestingly, most procedures considered restorative in nature also have significant cosmetic benefits as well.  One example of a procedure that is almost entirely restorative is a silver filling (as opposed to a white composite or porcelain filling) which is used to fill a cavity or tooth fracture or crack but is not considered to be appealing aesthetically.  It restores the tooth but does not necessarily do so in a way that looks the best.  This is one of the reasons our office does not use silver fillings.  Most patients nowadays only want white composite or porcelain fillings to meet both their restorative and cosmetic desires. 

    There are other dental procedures that are both cosmetic and restorative in nature including dental bridges, Invisalign, braces, implants and more. 

    Our Los Alamitos Dentist Is A Cosmetic Dentist, Restorative Dentist, Family Dentist,  Comprehensive Dentist, General Dentist And More

    So what type of dentistry does our Los Alamitos dental office perform?  We do it all! 

    If you are looking for a cosmetic dentist, restorative dentist, family dentist, comprehensive dentist, general dentist or any other description of dentist in or near Los Alamitos, Cypress, Rossmoor, Seal Beach, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Lakewood or Cerritos, we’ve got you covered.  We would love to help you with both your dental health and appearance! 

    Give us a call today (562) 430-7310 or click on one of the “Request An Appointment” buttons throughout this website.  

    Dental X-Rays and Dental Photography in Los Alamitos

    X-rays are an invaluable tool used in the dental profession since the 1800's, allowing the healthcare provider to see and diagnose much more than what was seen by the eye alone. At the dental office of Dr. Shanna Chirco in Los Alamitos, we believe in providing the best dental care available. This is why we utilize the most up to date technology to help see and explain your dental health. Today Dr. Shanna Chirco relies upon three different methods to obtain the most comprehensive care: Extra-oral radiography, Intra-oral radiography, and Intra-oral photography.

    Digital Dental X-Rays can help identify problem areas and result in significantly less exposure to radiation over traditional Dental X-Rays

    Digital Dental X-Rays can help identify problem areas and result in significantly less exposure to radiation over traditional Dental X-Rays

    Digital Intra-Oral Radiography / Digital X-Rays

    Digital Intra-Oral Radiography or Digital x-rays have been recommended by the American Dental Association for multiple reasons and we are happy to provide the benefits of this advanced technology to our patients. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer.  This image can be instantly viewed, enlarged, and enhanced to help Dr. Shanna Chirco and her dental team detect problems easier.  Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays. These images are easily stored and can be easily shared with the insurance company for faster approvals and with other dental or medical health professionals should the need arise. 

    Extra-oral Radiography / Panoramic Dental X-Rays

    Extra-oral Radiography or Panoramic dental x-rays are used to create a single image of the entire mouth. This allows Dr. Shanna Chirco and her dental team to see the surrounding structures such as the Temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the sinus cavities, bone abnormalities, cysts, impacted teeth, infections and tumors. Because it does not provide details on the teeth themselves, intra-oral x-rays along with extra-oral X-rays provide a complete view of a patients condition. 

    Panoramic Digital Dental X-Ray - Our Los Alamitos Dental Office Utilizes Only Digital X-Rays

    Panoramic Digital Dental X-Ray - Our Los Alamitos Dental Office Utilizes Only Digital X-Rays

    Intra-oral Photography

    Intra-oral photography (pictures inside the mouth) is used by Dr. Shanna Chirco and her staff to help aid the patient in understanding what the current condition is and how it can be improved. We believe that pictures are worth a thousand words and truly help patients see if and how a tooth is unhealthy.  These images are also very helpful to help obtain approvals for treatment by the insurance company involved. 

    Frequently Asked Questions about Dental X-Rays and images.

    Are dental x-rays safe for me?

    Yes. Dental x-rays are a low-dose radiation equivalent to less than one day's natural radiation exposure received from the sun.

    How much radiation am I exposed to?

    The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has estimated the average radiation dose per year from all sources in the United States is 6.2 millisieverts (mSv), with about 3.1 mSv of this does from natural sources and about 3.1 mSv from man-made sources such as x-rays or CT scanning. For a series of 4 X-rays taken at a check up appointment the patient would be exposed to 0.005 mSv.  This is equivalent to a full day in sun or a quick 1-2 hour airplane flight. 

     How often should I get dental x-rays?

    X-ray frequency is dependent on the condition presented to the dentist. It is recommended to have a full series of x-rays as a new patient to ensure a comprehensive exam is accomplished. A patient with a high risk for cavities and infection should have x-rays taken every 6-12 months. If a patient is at low risk for cavities or infections, x-rays can be taken every 12-24 months. 

    Are dental x-rays covered by my insurance? 

    All dental benefits vary according to the insurance carrier. The benefits are usually based off of frequency. The date of the last x-rays taken can be provided by the insurance carrier and our staff would be more than happy to assist you obtain your maximum coverage. 

    Can I have dental x-rays while pregnant?

    We encourage only emergency x-rays to be taken while pregnant and ideally during the second trimester.  If a dental x-ray is necessary, the patient is provided a double lead apron to help protect the baby and the mother.  Please notify us if you think you might be pregnant and we will be happy to modify our treatment accordingly. 

    If you have any dental questions or concerns or would like to schedule your own dental x-rays, give us a call today (562) 430-7310 or click on one of the “Request An Appointment” buttons throughout this website.  

    New Patient Teeth Cleaning Special & Dental X-Rays Specials

    $89 Adult / $49 Child New Patient Special

     If you're looking for a new dentist, or if you've been putting off a much needed visit to the dentist, here's your chance to get back on track to a great smile!

    Our $89 / $49 New Patient Special* includes:

    •    Complete Series of Digital Intraoral X-rays (D0210)
    •    Comprehensive Initial Examination (D0150)
    •    Periodontal Evaluation
    •    Oral Cancer Screening
    •    Professional Dental Cleaning (D1110 or D4355)**

    *New patients only on initial visit.  Not valid with insurance.  Must present coupon below or mention New Patient Special at time of treatment.  **Unless gum disease is present (additional fee may apply)

    Call (562) 430-7310 or click on the Request an Appointment at the bottom of this page!


    July 2016 Teeth Whitening Giveaway!

    Our office gave away a free in-office giveaway to one lucky person in July.  See further below for the video where we selected the winner.  The giveaway was conducted on the office Facebook page.  Full contest details can be found below

    enter our July 2016 Teeth Whitening Giveaway!  A winner will be announced July 28th, 2016

    enter our July 2016 Teeth Whitening Giveaway!  A winner will be announced July 28th, 2016

    Don't forget to also "Like us" on our Facebook page to get notifications for future giveaways, dental health information and keep up to date on interesting office news.  

    Contest Rules

    No purchase whatsoever is necessary.  Need not be existing or prior patient.  Being a patient or making a purchase will not increase your odds of winning.  Void where prohibited by law.  

    This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this Facebook page and not to Facebook.

    To enter, simply comment on the Facebook post of Dr. Shanna Chirco announcing the contest.  Any comment constitutes an entry.  Only one entry per person.  The contest only runs until 5:00 p.m. PST on July 28th, 2016.  Shortly thereafter, a winner will be randomly selected and notified via our Facebook page.  

    Must be 18 years old to enter and a California resident.  Only one free in-office whitening will be awarded (value $350).  

    For more information about teeth whitening with our office, check out our whitening page by clicking here.  

    Please also remember to "Like" our Facebook page to receive updates, information about future raffles and dental health information.


    Video of Los Alamitos Cosmetic and Family Dentist Shanna Chirco DDS selecting the winner of our July 2016 In-Office Teeth Whitening Raffle. 

    For How Long and How Often Should I Brush My Teeth?

    Brushing your teeth is one of the most important things you can do for your oral health but also for your overall health.  Brushing is something that should never be skipped.  Ideally, you should brush your teeth after each snack or meal in order to remove the sugar and other substances on your teeth but this is understandably difficult to do.  At a minimum, you need to brush at least two times per day, once in the morning and once at night before bed.   The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice per day. 


    While a significant portion of the population does a good job of brushing their teeth two times a day, very few brush their teeth for long enough.  Brushing should take at least two minutes each time you brush your teeth and oftentimes longer.  The key is to brush long enough to clean your teeth and at least two minutes is a good marker.  Most of the time, this will enable you to remove the sticky, sugary substances that have accumulated on your teeth.  Unfortunately, most people see brushing as a task and tend to rush through it, doing a woefully inadequate job. 

    To ensure you brush long enough, you could set a timer (our office has some two minute hourglass sand timers – feel free to stop by for a complimentary one) or brush your teeth while watching TV so you spend enough time on it. 

    One thing to be wary of when brushing your teeth is that you do not want to brush too hard.  Brushing too hard can wear your teeth down or cause your gums to recede.  Brush with reasonable pressure and make sure you brush every tooth inside and out.

    Additional things to remember:

    • Brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth;
    • Floss at least once a day (ideally before brushing) to get rid of the plaque in between your teeth where the toothbrush cannot get to; and
    • See your dentist for examinations and thorough cleanings regularly, usually once to twice per year.

    Our Los Alamitos dentist Dr. Shanna Chirco is accepting new patients.  Call (562) 430-7310 today for an appointment.

    What is a cavity?

    Tooth Structure

    Tooth Structure

    The most common dental problem experienced by patients is a cavity.  So what exactly is a cavity?  In short, it is a hole in the outer enamel of your tooth.  It occurs when bacteria, usually plaque, is on your tooth for a long enough period of time so that it reacts with sugar in the foods you eat to produce acids that cause damage to the tooth's enamel.  This is why brushing and flossing are so important - they remove that plaque and other harmful bacteria before they get a chance to do damage to the enamel on our teeth.  If damage is done, the space that remains after the decay is removed is called the cavity.  

    If a cavity is left untreated, the plaque will continue to attack and extend deeper into the tooth, into areas that contain sensitive nerve fibers, resulting in pain and increased sensitivity.  If the cavity gets too large, the root of the tooth can also be damaged.  

    What is a filling?  It is material that fills the hole, or cavity, to block further damage from being done.  A filling is a simple repair that involves placing an amalgam or composite material in the cavity and restoring the tooth's original contours. Thereafter the tooth should feel comfortable and back to normal.

    Teeth before (left) and after (right) cavity repair with composite fillings

    Teeth before (left) and after (right) cavity repair with composite fillings

    In addition to regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, checkups and cleanings twice a year help prevent cavities by minimizing plaque and bacteria.  Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to help maintain your oral health.