Dental emergencies are upsetting and often painful. Prompt treatment with the Chapel Hill emergency dentist is necessary to relieve pain and to protect your oral health. ALWAYS contact your dentist immediately if you experience a dental emergency.

Here are a few of the more common dental emergencies and how you should handle them:

NOTE: If you have suffered an injury to the face or jaw, experience excessive bleeding, or have passed out, immediately call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Tooth Knocked Out

If a tooth has been knocked out of the mouth (avulsed), it is essential to contact your dentist immediately since improper handling can damage tissues, nerves and blood vessels. If the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.

  1. DO NOT touch the root of the tooth. Pick it up carefully by the crown and rinse under warm water.
  2. Gently try to place the tooth back in the socket, but do not force it.
  3. If you cannot place the tooth, put it into a cup of milk, saliva, or water as a last resort. It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.
  4. Get to the dentist quickly and safely.

The dentist will try to replace the tooth in its natural socket but if the root structure of the tooth is seriously damaged, root canal therapy may be necessary.

Lost filling or crown

Once you’ve lost a filling the affected tooth may become highly sensitive to temperature changes and pressure. When a crown comes out make a dental appointment as soon as possible. Keep the crown in a safe place so your Chapel Hill emergency dentist can try to reinsert it. If the dentist is not immediately available you can follow these temporary steps.

  1. Try an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen for discomfort
  2. Clean the crown gently and keep it in a safe place until you get to our office. DO NOT use glue to try to reattach the tooth as you may damage the crown

Cracked or broken teeth

Natural teeth are strong, but they are still prone to fractures, cracks, and breaks. If the crack extends into the root, the pain may be extreme. If a tooth fractured or cracked, you must see the dentist as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, take the following steps:

  1. Rinse the tooth fragment and the mouth with lukewarm water.
  2. Apply gauze to the area for ten minutes if there is bleeding.
  3. Take a topical pain reliever.

We are here to help whenever you need us, so please call if you suspect you have an emergency!


Approximately ten percent of American adults suffer from sleep apnea, but as obesity rates continue to climb in this country, so do the statistics for those dealing with sleep apnea. For spouses, partners and roommates the world over, apnea can be a noisy bother, but it also increases the risk of heart disease and seriously affects the quality of sleep that sufferers get in the course of a night. Because of its dangers, it is important to know what causes it and what you can do to correct it.

Sleep Apnea Warning Signs

Loud, Persistent Snoring

One of the most obvious and frustrating side effects of sleep apnea is loud, persistent snoring, which may not bother the sufferer, but almost certainly will be a problem for the spouse or partner with whom they share a bed. Often, it’s the spouse who recognizes apnea as a problem because of this loud snoring. They can’t get the sleep they need with so much noise next to them.

Gaps in Breathing or Gasping

Spouses and partners may also notice gaps in breathing, where the snoring stops momentarily only to be followed by a loud gasp and then more labored breathing. This sudden gasping can be taxing on the heart and certainly can affect the quality of sleep that you’re having.


That lack of quality sleep, then, leads to drowsiness, which not only can make it hard to get through a day of work, but also can be quite dangerous for those that drive drowsy. If you are a snorer and often find yourself sleepy during the day, sleep apnea may be the culprit.

What You Can Do About Sleep Apnea

Lose Weight

There is a direct correlation between sleep apnea and obesity, so one natural way to decrease the effects of sleep apnea is to lose some weight. It’s not a quick fix, but it is an effective and inexpensive one.

Consider a CPAP Machine

CPAP machines are a common solution for sleep apnea, as well, but they can be expensive and they don’t necessarily work for all people. They also are not convenient for travel and can be uncomfortable for those that sleep with them on. They are one possible solution, but not the only solution.

Oral Appliances from Your Dentist

In fact, at Dr. Diane Hourigan’s office, we often build custom oral appliances to treat sleep apnea, and they work wonders for patients in search of a comfortable, affordable, convenient solution to the condition. We monitor the results to make sure the appliance is the appropriate therapy solution, but in many cases we have seen excellent results from people who opt to use an oral appliance rather than a CPAP machine.

If you are interested in finding a solution for your sleep apnea, contact the office of Dr. Diane Hourigan, and we will be happy to go through your specific options in person. We want to help eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of sleep apnea, and an oral appliance is one convenient way to go about doing that.