Dental traumas can leave people in agony for much longer than necessary. This is often due to the sufferer being unsure about what is considered a dental emergency. The general rule is that if it hurting then it is most likely a dental emergency that you should let your local dentist look at as soon as possible.
What is Considered a Dental Emergency?
It is important for every one to understand what a dental emergency is.If you visit the dentist when there is little wrong with your teeth then you risk paying for an emergency appointment for no reason. However, on the flip-side, if you choose to ignore your teeth related ailment then the problem may snowball into a much more painful and difficult to solve issue. It is generally much more beneficial for you to follow the adage - it's better to be safe than sorry.
Common Dental Emergencies
Let's go through a few common dental injuries that you may be subject to in the future and discuss how much of an emergency they are.
1. Knocked-Out Tooth
A knocked out tooth is considered very much to be a dental emergency. Your tooth literally depends on how soon your actions are taken. If you follow the advice accordingly and visit your dentist shortly after the injury has occurred then then chances are the dentist will be able to place the tooth back into its socket quickly enough so that it can heal itself back to full strength. In order to save your tooth please follow these instructions:
- First you need to retrieve your tooth. Pick it up by the top of the tooth, otherwise known as the 'crown'. It is recommended not to touch the root of the tooth at all.
- Now head over to the sink. Start by placing a cloth or similar into the basin so that you don't risk dropping your tooth down the plughole. Now Gently rinse the tooth and nothing else. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any of the tissue still attached to it.
- If it is possible, now try to insert the tooth back into the mouth by yourself. If you do manage to do this bite down softly to secure it in position.
- If you can't manage to get the tooth back into its socket you should preferably place the tooth into a container of milk, alternatively just leave it in the container by itself.
- Now you should call your dentist right away. The longer you wait to get in touch with your dentist the lower the chance that the tooth will reconnect with the tissue in the socket.
2. Your tooth is loose or 'wonky'
In this situation you should call up your local dentist for an emergency appointment as soon as possible. In the meantime, use your finger to gently push your tooth back into position but don't push too hard! If it is proving to be too difficult to move back into position then just leave it where it is and let the dentist deal with your loose tooth. You may also bite down to avoid the tooth from moving out of position. When you arrive at the dentist it is common for a splint to be inserted onto your tooth. This will keep it supported by the neighbouring tooth.
3. You've chipped or cracked your tooth
You have to make a judgement call in this situation. If you have chipped your tooth but you aren't feeling any pain then, although you need to have your tooth looked at, it is not considered an emergency. In this case, you can wait for a few days and visit your dentist in regular hours. During this waiting period be careful with what you are eating so that you don't damage your tooth further. The most probable course of action will be for the dentist to fill the chip with composite filling material to restore the tooth back to normal. Alternatively, the dentist may be able to smooth over the chip. A cracked or fractured tooth is another story altogether. You should take this very seriously even if there isn't any pain. If the tooth is cracked then there is a high chance that there is damage deep into the tooth rather than just at the surface. If the fracture is particularly bad then there it will be difficult to save your tooth at all. This makes it incredibly important that you get in touch with your dentist as soon as you can and in the meantime follow these instructions: 1. Carefully rinse out your mouth with warm water. 2. If you have suffered any facial trauma in the cause of your injury then you should apply some cold compression to the area to reduce the impact of swelling. 3. You should never apply a painkiller to the gum as they can actually burn the gum tissue. This also includes painkiller gels that are marketed for this type of injury.
On visiting the dentist
Your local dentist will need to give you an x-ray to determine how damaged your tooth is inside. If the soft tissue at the centre of your tooth is damaged then it is likely that you will need a root canal. If this tissue is not damaged then you may only need to have a crown on that tooth. Some dentists will be able to fabricate your crown on the same day and get this fitted soon after your initial appointment. However not all dentists have the facility to do this and will need to send off details to have the crown made. In this situation, you will be given a temporary crown to wear until your permanent crown is returned back to the dental practice read for fixing. If it is not possible to save the tooth then all is not lost. There are several treatments you can choose between to have your tooth replaced such as bridges and implants. You dentist will talk you through these options in detail during your appointment.
Other Dental Emergencies
In short, any dental injury that needs urgent treatment in order to save a tooth can be considered a dental emergency. In some cases, such as in the case of an abscess or infection, your life could be threatened and you need to consult a dental professional straight away. In this situation, the dentist may be able to open and drain the tooth allowing the abscess to empty. If you are not able to visit your emergency dentist then get to a hospital as soon as you can.
What if my temporary restoration falls off?
During some treatments you will be given a temporary fixing. For example, a temporary crown or veneer that will sit in place before the fixed restoration is implemented. If this does fall off, it is not considered a dental emergency, however, you should place the fixing back into position as best you can and see your dentist when you get the chance. Quick tip: A temporary crown can easily be put back into position by placing a little vaseline or toothpaste into the crown and using it as a temporary adhesive until you can visit the dentist to get the crown cemented back into place.
Dental Emergency Quick Question List
If you are still unsure as to whether your condition is considered a dental emergency then please ask yourself the following questions.
- Are you bleeding from the mouth?
- Are you feeling severe pain?
- Have any of your teeth become loose?
- Is the area around your face swollen at all?
- Have your gums become swollen or bulging anywhere?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions then there is a very high chance that you are in need of an emergency dentist. You should get in touch with your local dentist as soon as possible and explain clearly your situation. This will enable them to make a sound judgement on your condition and as to how time sensitive your treatment need be.