Do you need emergency dental attention?
It can be challenging to remain calm in pain, especially when you are confused about the type of treatment you need. One can’t expect to do comprehensive research about their ailments while suffering a toothache. So, we compiled a guide to help you understand if and when you need emergency dental treatment.
Read on for some situations where your best option is to seek urgent dental attention, and examples where you might need to rush to the nearest local emergency hospital. This guide can help you make the right decision for your health!
What is a dental emergency?
There are four main reasons to seek emergency dental treatment:
- Severe pain in tooth or gum area
- If you have an abscess (pus-filled tooth infection)
- To save a tooth that is broken, chipped, or detached
- Light bleeding in the mouth
It is important to note that in some severe cases you might need to seek care directly from your local emergency hospital. Including but not limited to situations of excruciating pain, severe trauma to the jaw or difficulty breathing due to a dental condition.
Potential causes for tooth pain
The most common reason for toothache is decay. The dental enamel around the tooth can erode over time and expose sensitive nerves. Although a trip to the dentist may be required, it might not qualify for an emergency dental treatment. The following remedies can help in managing the pain:
- Rinsing with warm, saltwater (ratio of one teaspoon of salt to half a litre of water)
- Applying a cold compress to the affected side of the face
- Over the counter painkillers (such as ibuprofen and paracetamol)
- Over the counter painkilling gels or solutions
If any of these remedies allow you to manage the pain until you can visit your dentist, an emergency visit is not required.
Another common cause of toothache is gum disease. Dental treatment is recommended as soon as possible - even if these remedies provide some short-term relief.
An abscess is a confined pocket of pus that can collect in organs and tissues in the body, including teeth and gums. It causes a significant amount of pain and is often described as a continuous throbbing that is nearly impossible to ignore. Some swelling may also be observed in the infected area.
It is advisable to immediately request emergency dental assistance if you suspect that you (or someone you care about) has an abscess. In addition to being painfully nasty, an abscess can also burst if left untreated and infect the surrounding area.
Broken, chipped, or missing teeth
You might require an emergency dentist if a tooth (or multiple teeth) get knocked out as a result of a sports injury (or another form of trauma to the mouth). While you wait for your emergency dentist appointment, you should replace the missing tooth in its socket and hold it in place with a clean cloth or dressing on top and gently biting down on it. This helps in re-rooting the tooth and avoiding permanent damage.
Additionally, urgent dental help might be a necessity if there is a large crack in the tooth that exposes nerves and causes significant pain.
In the event of a small chip in the tooth as a result of biting something unexpectedly hard, you might not require urgent care unless there is excessive pain or bleeding.
Light bleeding in the mouth can occur because of laceration of the gums, chipping of teeth, or over-enthusiastic brushing! If the bleeding is not excessive and stops in a few minutes is usually not a cause of concern.
However, blood in the mouth could potentially be from the throat, lungs, or digestive tract. It is advisable to get checked by a medical professional if there is persistent bleeding in the mouth.
Heavy or persistent bleeding should be addressed immediately by either your emergency dentist or a local emergency hospital. If the bleeding has no obvious dental cause, or an accident involving the jaw, seek treatment immediately by visiting the nearest emergency hospital.
Useful tips to avoid dental emergencies
These valuable guidelines can help you significantly reduce the need for an emergency trip to the dentist.
Regular dentist check-ups
Visiting your dentist every six months can help them identify any potential problems. The build-up of food can cause decay, but stopping it at an early stage can save you a lot of pain!
Don’t slack on oral hygiene!
Maintaining good oral hygiene practices not only helps in keeping the gums and teeth healthy but also has a positive effect on your overall health and confidence.
Teeth are not bottle openers
Avoid taking risks with your teeth by attempting to open jars and bottles. As tempting as it might be, it can cause serious damage to your teeth and/or jaw. Save the emergency dentist trip by limiting risky dental activities.
Wear appropriate mouth guards and sports equipment
If you engage in high-risk sports, ensure that you’re wearing equipment that is the right fit for you. Mouthguards and helmets that are too loose or too tight can often cause more harm than good.
If you’re ever unsure about whether you need emergency dental treatment, don't delay your call to (03) 5292 2067. We have emergency appointments put aside, but these can fill quickly! Alternatively you can take advantage of our 24/7 dental emergency SMS hotline - simply SMS your full name & dental problem to 0488 811 456 and our on-call healthcare professional will assist.