While everybody has a regular dental appointment, sometimes waiting for our turn in the dentist chair is not an option. There are times when we need treatment right now, and time is of the essence. But dental emergencies are such a wide-ranging thing that you may not consider what constitutes a “dental emergency.” Let’s show you exactly what you need to know.
What Is a Dental Emergency?
If you have a dental emergency, it is very likely you will have one of the following common dental problems:
A Lost Tooth
A lost tooth constitutes a dental emergency. Whether your tooth was knocked out or it fell out, this is an emergency. Of course, it is worth noting that this is in adult teeth. With children’s teeth, they can fall out due to making way for the next collection of teeth. However, for adults, you need to collect the tooth and pick it up by the crown. The crown is the part of the tooth that we see, the top part. Do not touch the root as the bacteria could infect this area. Where possible, avoid touching the tooth. You should reinsert the tooth into the socket, and hold it in place. You can use cloth or gauze. If it is not possible to reinsert the tooth due to trauma in the gum or how because of how the tooth is broken, it needs to go in a glass of milk. Milk contains substances to keep the tooth alive, including sugars for the cells, proteins to maintain the acid balance, and most importantly, antibacterial agents.
Toothache is a very common complaint, but the benchmark as to whether it is an emergency or not relates to the level of pain you are experiencing. If you have a toothache, it is vital to make sure the area is clean first. Clean around the tooth with fluoride toothpaste and rinse out your mouth with saltwater, as saltwater can lift food particles that can get stuck between the teeth and the guns. If you are experiencing a significant amount of pain, you may consider taking painkillers. It is recommended to take ibuprofen due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Aspirin is not recommended as it thins the blood, and could cause uncontrollable bleeding. If the pain persists, continue to monitor the area to check if there is any swelling. You should never ignore a toothache, even if it gets worse and then disappears. If the pain suddenly goes away, this might indicate the tooth nerve dying, but with the infection still intact.
A Broken Tooth
A broken or displaced tooth is unpleasant, but it is vital to evaluate the extent of the damage. While you have a cut lip or tongue, make sure you put pressure on the wound by using sterile gauze, as this induces a clot. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15-minutes, this is considered an emergency, and you need to visit the emergency room. With a broken tooth, you can check the extent of the damage through a few simple questions:
Is the Dentin Exposed?
The dentin is the part of the tooth beneath the enamel. If the dentin loses its enamel, this can cause sensitivity. If there is no pain, you need to visit a dentist within 48 hours. However, if the exposed tooth is sensitive or painful, you need to visit us as soon as possible.
Is the Pulp Exposed?
The pulp is a piece of connective tissue within the center of the tooth directly underneath the dentin layer. You can see if the pulp is exposed by a visible piece of redness within the tooth. When the pulp is exposed, the tooth is in danger of infection, and a visit to the dentist should occur within 24-hours maximum.
Is the Root Fractured?
This can be difficult to deduce, as the root is not visible. However, you can identify a fractured root by increasing pain, especially if you apply different temperature and pressure changes to it. This is considered an emergency, and you need to visit us as soon as possible.
How Can We Avoid Dental Emergencies?
While we understand what consists of a dental emergency, the best approach is to prevent emergencies in the first place. It is great to have a dentist on hand to help you in a dental emergency, but avoiding dental emergencies is about a handful of regular practices:
Protecting Your Teeth in Potentially Dangerous Situations
For example, if you play sports, you have a higher risk of damaging your teeth, resulting in a dental emergency. The best thing you can do is to protect your teeth by wearing a mouthguard. Custom athletic mouthguards protect teeth by distributing the impact across the jaw, so you will less likely experience a lost tooth.
Look After Your Teeth
Regular flossing and brushing ensure that your teeth remove any food particles, so there is less chance of infection. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste means you will keep your teeth healthy. Fluoride is one of the best chemicals to keep your teeth as strong as possible while minimizing plaque.
Get Regular Dental Cleanings
Prevention is key but there is only so much we can do at home. If you look after your teeth by eating a healthy diet and religiously flossing and brushing every day, it is still helpful to get regular cleanings and exams to remove any tartar and plaque buildup from the surface of your teeth. One of the biggest causes of toothache is a buildup of plaque. If you have a history of infections or toothache, it is recommended that you get a dental cleaning at least every six months.
Do You Need Emergency Dental Care?
Ultimately, there are many scenarios that define a dental emergency. If you are not sure if you are facing a dental emergency, or you need extra support, you can contact us right away, Our dental team is ready to help you out, whether you have a query or an emergency where time is of the essence.