Emergency dental care focuses on managing dental issues that require urgent intervention to prevent serious injury or long-term effects on one’s oral and physical health. Unfortunately, dental emergencies cannot be predicted and can occur anywhere and to anyone. The best way to minimize damage when such occurs is to know what to do.
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What are the Emergency Conditions for Dentistry?
According to the American Dental Association, dental emergencies can be life-threatening. This requires timely treatment to manage uncontrolled bleeding, trauma, severe pain or dental infections.
The Canadian Dental Association lists six dental problems that constitute an emergency and require prompt treatment.
1. Unbearable Toothache
Regardless of the underlying cause, a toothache can cause severe discomfort and significantly affect one’s quality of life. Call your dentist to book an emergency appointment if you have a severe toothache.
You may take an over-the-counter pain medication to ease the pain. However, you should not put the pill directly inside the painful tooth or cavity. Placing an icepack on the affected side of the face also helps minimize the pain and swelling. Don’t use a heating pad, bottle, or other heating device as it may increase swelling and worsen things.
2. Knocked-out Tooth
A knocked-out permanent tooth can be restored if put back into its socket within 1-2 hours. Therefore, if you or a loved one has a knocked-out tooth, keep it and visit your trusted emergency dentist immediately.
To save a knocked-out tooth, hold its visible part known as the crown. Do not touch the root. Rinse it with water to remove debris, and then store it in milk or a tooth-preservation solution. Alternatively, you can put the tooth inside your cheeks, as saliva is an excellent preservation medium.
Your dentist will first clean the tooth socket and then place the tooth inside it. Most knocked-out teeth can be successfully replanted if one visits an emergency dentist quickly.
If the avulsed tooth cannot be put back into position, your dentist will replace the missing tooth with a dental implant-supported prosthesis.
3. Chipped or Broken Teeth
If you find a tooth chip or hear a cracking sound while chewing, don’t worry. Chipped or broken teeth can almost always be fixed. If someone has a fractured tooth, they should call their dentist at once and explain what happened.
Chipped teeth should be fixed straight away. Your dentist will assess the extent of the damage and treat the issue. If the crack is small, your dentist will restore it with a suitable filling. However, if it’s large, a root canal treatment may be needed before the filling.
Sometimes, a dental crown is placed over the root canal-treated tooth to reinforce it.
4. Uncontrolled Bleeding
If you have severe bleeding due to an injury or trauma, the first thing to do is to press down on the bleeding site using a clean cloth. This will help stop the bleeding. If the area is swollen, such as a badly bitten lip, you can place an icepack over it to minimize the swelling.
If these measures are insufficient to stop the bleeding, rush to the nearest emergency dental practice or ER.
5. Dislodged Filling
A dislodged filling not only affects one’s facial aesthetics but can also cause complications such as tooth sensitivity and even tooth fracture. Therefore, lost fillings should be replaced promptly.
While waiting to see your emergency dentist, place sugar-free chewing gum over the affected tooth to prevent sensitivity. If only the filling is lost, your dentist will replace it with a fresh restoration. However, if a part of the tooth was also chipped off, your dentist will have to reinforce the tooth with a crown after the filling.
6. Something Stuck Between the Teeth
An object stuck between two teeth can cause significant discomfort and pain due to pressure. While at home, you may use dental floss to dislodge it. If this is unsuccessful, don’t use a toothpick or any other pointed object, as it may injure your gums.
If you cannot pull out the stuck object at home, you should see your dentist for treatment.
What Medical Issues Poor Dental Health Can Lead To?
Poor oral health can also affect you physically and result in medical complications. Here are three dental issues that can cause physical health problems.
- Gum Disease – Gum disease can cause various medical complications, such as heart disease and respiratory disorders.
- Chipped or Crooked Teeth – Chipped or crooked teeth make chewing difficult, leading to general weakness and malnutrition.
- Misaligned Teeth – Crooked teeth can cause difficulty in eating and speaking and affect one’s ability to digest food properly.
What Should I Do if My Dental Emergency Falls on a Weekend?
Dental emergencies can be easily handled if they occur during business hours. But what should one do when it occurs after clinic hours or on weekends?
In such cases, you should see a 24-hour emergency dentist near you. Most dentists also give emergency contact numbers to their patients so they can reach them anytime if needed. If you cannot find any dental emergency practice, walk into any nearby ER.
Take immediate action to minimize the damage from dental emergencies. Follow the first-aid measures mentioned in this article. Save your dentist’s contact number and identify the nearest 24-hour emergency dentist. If there is none, make sure you know where the nearest hospital is.