Getting oral concerns treated as quickly as possible is always the smartest option. Some oral concerns, however, require immediate attention. These are your dental emergencies.
There are many things which might be considered a dental emergency. Some of them are obvious, such as a tooth getting knocked out. But others might be confused for problems that can wait until “later” to deal with.
We’ll go over what is a dental emergency when to see an emergency dentist, and what to do in the meantime.
Reasons to Visit an Emergency Dentist
Obvious reasons to see an emergency dentist include:
- Tooth knocked out or knocked loose.
- Chipped or broken tooth.
- Uncontrollable bleeding.
But there are other complications which really should get immediate treatment, which you might think you can put off. These include:
- Severe toothache.
- Signs of infection.
Teeth should never hurt, and severe toothache is never an indication of anything positive. All of these things should motivate a trip to the dentist as quickly as possible.
What to do if You’re Missing a Tooth
Teeth can often be saved and replaced into the mouth if you see an emergency dentist within about half an hour of the incident. If you suffer an injury which results in a tooth getting knocked out, follow these steps.
- If possible, retrieve the tooth.
- Call your dentist to book an emergency appointment and explain a tooth has been knocked out.
- If you can find the tooth, handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. The root will have cells on it that can help with reattachment, but which will be damaged by contact.
- Rinse the tooth, but do not scrub it.
- You can either try to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person or place it in milk. Either will help keep unwanted bacteria off the tooth and prevent it from drying out. If storing it in the mouth, try to place it back in the socket gently.
- If not placing the tooth in the mouth, or the tooth cannot be found, apply gauze to the affected gum to stop bleeding like you would any wound.
In many cases, a dentist will be able to successfully reinsert an adequately preserved tooth, if you get to the dentist fast enough.
What to do if a Tooth is Fractured
A broken tooth isn’t going to be put back together, but it can be either restored or — in worst case scenarios — extracted to prevent further problems.
- Rinse out the mouth with warm water.
- Treat the swelling with a cold compress or ice pack.
- Call the dentist to arrange an emergency appointment to inspect the damage to the tooth.
Minor fractures can either be left alone, smoothed over, or restored with a temporary composite restoration, depending on where the fracture is and the dentist’s assessment.
Moderate fractures may be restored with a dental crown or may need a root canal treatment if the inner pulp has been compromised.
Severe fractures will often result in the loss of the tooth.
What to do With a Loose Tooth
Sometimes a tooth is moved out of position, but not knocked out completely or broken. In these instances, a dentist may still be able to reset the tooth in the proper place.
- Very gently reposition the tooth. Do not use too much force, or you will take the tooth out completely.
- Gently bite down to prevent the tooth from moving until you get to the dentist.
What to do With Bleeding and Ulcerations
Bleeding gums and the appearance of ulcers are usually signs of infection. It’s essential to get to the dentist as quickly as possible to inspect and treat whatever is causing the problems.
General Tips For Emergency Dentistry
- Remain calm.
- Book an appointment as quickly as possible.
If you need painkillers, try to avoid aspirin. It’s an anticoagulant which can cause bleeding issues if you require any sort of surgery.