Emergency dentistry is the dental practice that deals with oral health complications that require immediate attention. Some examples of the oral health complications that fall under emergency dentistry include:
- Trauma and Accidents
- Oral Pain and Toothaches
- Root Canals
- Cracked or Chipped Teeth
- Teeth That Have Been Knocked-Out
- Damage to Dental Work
- Sports-Related Injuries
- Wisdom Tooth Removal
- Oral Infections
- Complications Resulting From Oral Surgery
Oral health complications, even those that involve little or no pain, can quickly lead to more serious and long-lasting damage if not treated promptly. Oral health complications should be dealt with as soon as possible, which is why emergency dentistry exists.
What You Should Do In a Dental Emergency
People naturally feel the urge to panic in a dental emergency. When you or someone you love is in pain, you are more prone to make mistakes or poor decisions because of a lack of proper information. We have developed this brief guide to dental emergencies to ensure that our patients have all the information that they need to make the right decisions in dental emergencies.
When there is pain coming from a tooth or teeth, this is a sign that there is some oral health complication in or around the affected area. Any form of tooth pain, no matter how mild or extreme is a sign that you need to make an appointment to see your dentist immediately.
The degree of tooth pain does not necessarily indicate the seriousness of the oral health complication, so do not put off tooth pain if it feels mild or you believe that it will simply go away on its own. The sooner you deal with the underlying problem, the better for you and your oral health.
Treating the complication right away may mean something as simple as getting a filling due to tooth decay, while putting it off may mean far more complicated, painful and expensive forms of treatment for the underlying problem.
There are a few things that you can do when faced with tooth pain:
- Use warm salted water to rinse you mouth regularly.
- If it does not cause too much additional pain, remove food particles from around the affected tooth by flossing. Food particles can occasionally make an already sore tooth even more painful by pressing against the affected area.
- Take pain medication to dull the pain while you are waiting for an appointment.
These recommendations are meant as a temporary solution only, and not a replacement for proper dental care. There is a common misconception that toothaches are a temporary discomfort that will go away with time, but all toothaches are indications of oral health complications that will only get worse with time if left untreated.
On a closing note, any toothache that is painful enough to keep you awake during the night is an indication that you will likely require an extraction or a root canal. In this case, do not delay one minute and contact our clinic to make an appointment.
Damage to teeth can occasionally be so severe that the only answer is to fully extract the affected tooth. However, we always look for options that will save a patient's teeth from extraction whenever possible.
Extracting a tooth can lead to the remaining teeth spreading out to fill the gap left by the extraction, which can have a serious impact on a person's smile. It is often possible to save part of the tooth with a root canal or dental crown. However, if a tooth extraction is the only answer, then our professional staff have the experience to make the process as quick and painless as possible.
Teeth That Have Been Knocked-Out
Teeth that have been knocked-out from their sockets are among the most common emergencies that we deal with at our clinic. The most common cause of knocked-out teeth is sports-related injuries, but there are numerous possible reasons that it can happen.
A knocked-out tooth requires immediate attention, and an appointment should be made with our clinic right away. There are a few key pieces of information that will maximize the chances of saving the knocked-out tooth:
- Remain calm. It can be painful and unsettling to have a tooth knocked-out, but remaining calm is the best way to ensure that the potential damage is minimized.
- Find the tooth. Pick it up by the crown, not the root. The root is very delicate and can be damaged easily.
- Gently wash the tooth with saline or milk. Only wash it for a a few seconds to get rid of any obvious debris or dirt. Never use tap water, since it might damage the tooth and the nerve endings.
- If the person whose tooth got knocked-out is still conscious, then very gently put the tooth back into its socket, ensuring that it is facing the right way. Taking this step will greatly increase the odds that the tooth will be successfully reattached.
- Place a clean handkerchief in the mouth to help hold the tooth in place.
- If the tooth cannot be safely put back into its socket, then store it in a clean container. Store it in the saliva of the person it belongs to or in milk. If you cannot find an appropriate container, then wet the tooth with saliva or milk and wrap it in plastic wrap.
- Once the above measures have been taken, contact our clinic to make an emergency appointment. Generally, if the tooth was put back into its socket within 20 minutes of the accident, then there is a good chance that it can be successfully reattached.
- Do not place baby teeth that have been knocked-out back into the socket. Instead just follow the instructions above for transporting a tooth and contact us to make an appointment.
Cracked or Chipped Teeth
A second very common dental emergency results from cracked or chipped teeth, or the loss of a filling, which is essentially the same result. Do not delay in making an appointment when experiencing cracked or chipped teeth. Cracks and chips in teeth allow bacteria to get under the tooth, which can lead to a serious infection if left untreated.
There are a few things that you can do to minimize the resulting discomfort and pain while waiting for your appointment:
- Avoid consuming any foods or liquids that are very hot or cold, since the affected tooth will be extremely sensitive to temperature.
- Avoid any foods that are difficult to chew, such as tough or hard foods.
- Avoid chewing with the side of your mouth where the injury is located.
- Take pain medication to dull the pain.
- If there is a jagged edge to the tooth, be careful when chewing, as it may lacerate the inside of your mouth.
- Be extremely careful with the tooth and surrounding area, and make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
Abscesses are infections that form between the teeth and gums or at the root of a tooth. An abscess is often very painful, and can even be life-threatening if allowed to spread. The symptoms from an abscess involve fever, pain from chewing, redness, open mouth sores and a bitter taste.
If you believe that you are suffering from an abscess, contact us to make an appointment right away. To relieve the pain while waiting for your appointment, rinse your mouth out with warm salted water.
Infections Resulting From Oral Surgery
As with any type of surgery, there is a small chance of developing an infection after oral surgery. If you have recently undergone some kind of oral surgery, such as a root canal or tooth extraction, then you should be cautious of the signs of an oral infection. These symptoms involve fever, pain and swelling surrounding the area of the infection.
Contact us immediately if you think that you have an oral infection. It is significantly easier to treat an infection in its early stages than to deal with it once it has spread. If you are already taking antibiotics as a result of your oral surgery, then you may need to switch prescriptions. If you were not prescribed any antibiotics for your oral surgery, then we may prescribe you one for the infection.
Wisdom Tooth Infection
Another very common oral health complication is the partial eruption of a wisdom tooth. Many people are faced with a situation where there is not enough room in their mouths for their wisdom teeth to erupt properly, so they experience partially erupted wisdom teeth that lead to the formation of gum flaps. Food particles then become lodged inside these flaps and cause an infection.
If you believe that you are experiencing a wisdom tooth infection, then contact us immediately to make an appointment. You can relieve the pain by rinsing your mouth out using warm salted water.
Emergency Children's Dentistry
Children are particularly prone to oral health complications as a result of their greater exposure to accidents and mishaps. 33% of all children between 18 and 40 months old will experience at least one oral health complication as a result of an injury. As with any dental emergency, it is essential to make an appointment as soon as possible.
Some people falsely believe that the severities of oral health complications are lessened for children because they do not yet have their permanent teeth. The reality is that damage and injuries to children's teeth can actually cause serious long-lasting problems.
If a baby tooth is knocked-out, do not attempt to place it back into its socket. Wash the tooth, and then store it in a container with milk or saliva, or wrap it in plastic wrap if you do not have an appropriate container. Contact us immediately to make an appointment, and bring the tooth to the appointment.
Contact us immediately if your child is experiencing tooth pain or if you suspect there is an oral health complication. Oral health complications in children that go untreated may cause problems later in life with their adult teeth.
Schedule regular dental appointments for your children every 6 months to minimize the chances of developing oral health complications. Regular cleaning and inspections allow dentists to identify and treat oral health complications early, before they develop into more severe problems.
Dental Emergency Prevention
While it is impossible to completely safeguard yourself and your family from oral health complications, there are a number of precautions that you can take to minimize the chances:
- Always wear a fitted mouth guard when participating in sports.
- Avoid chewing hard items, such as ice cubes, candy and popcorn kernels.
- Never use your teeth to open packaging or other items.
- Never place sharp items in your mouth.
The absolute best way to avoid oral health complications is to take good care of your teeth. This means brushing and flossing your teeth each day, and scheduling regular dental appointment with our clinic every six months.