None of us want to make that dreaded phone call to the dentist with a dental emergency! Teeth are strong, but unfortunately, accidents can easily occur which lead to a dental emergency. In these situations, it’s important to know exactly what you need do.
The crucial part is to contact your dentist as soon as possible. The longer you leave a problem, the worse it can get. Here are the essentials on what you can do in a dental emergency and how you can be prepared.
Make sure to check our Infographic “Are you ready for a dental emergency?” below.
What is a dental emergency?
There are many obvious types of dental emergencies which you will be able to determine from the appearance and aesthetics of your teeth, as well as pain. These can include losing, chipping or splitting a tooth.
Emergencies such as these can occur through trips or falls, playing sports, or experiencing physical trauma.
However, not all emergencies will be visual. If you feel a sudden surge of sharp pain within your mouth this can still be a dental emergency. This could be caused by an abscess, which is the result of a deep seated infection within your mouth; it will need to be looked at right away.
If you visit your dentist regularly and take good care of your teeth, the likelihood of having sudden pain is reduced as we screen for such things with the aim of prevention.
If you haven’t been to your dentist in a while, have a dental phobia, or don’t take proper care of your teeth, there is more chance of this problem occurring.
What should I do if I have a dental emergency?
The first and most important thing to do is to ring your dentist to see when they can fit you in for an appointment. It is paramount that you call them as soon as possible because the injury may get worse.
If you think your injury involves a broken jaw, then head to the emergency department at your nearest hospital. A dentist cannot help you in this case. If you are in doubt, contact your physician or dentist right away.
For other dental emergencies, the following should be done.
This type of dental emergency will be apparent to you right away. Losing a tooth could come from a sports injury, trip, or fall. In order to try and save the tooth, either put it in milk or put it back in your mouth where is should be — holding it tightly against the gum and cheek. The latter is not recommended to children as they may swallow the tooth.
Also note that when picking up the tooth, hold it by the top part (the crown) and not the part which sits in the gum as these are the roots. If you can’t find the tooth, there are various options available for filling the gap.
Cracked or Fractured tooth
This is a very serious dental emergency, as it can often mean that damage is done both inside and outside of the tooth. Rinse your mouth with warm water and if you have a swollen face then use an ice pack.
Once you get to the dentist, the dentist will have to take an x-ray to see the severity and damage of the crack or fracture.
Broken or chipped tooth
Less severe than a lost or cracked tooth but still important to get to the dentist. If you can find the piece of your tooth that has chipped off then put it in milk and bring it to the dentist with you.
If the tooth isn’t too damaged it could simply be smoothed down. Alternatively, some filling will be added to the tooth to complete it.
How can I prevent or prepare for a dental emergency?
Regularly visiting your dentist means that they are able to check if you’re teeth are healthy, strong, and free from tooth decay. If they are, then the likelihood of you experiencing a dental emergency is decreased. Dentists can also check if fillings are firmly in place and that braces are secure.
If you play contact sports, then wearing a mouthguard is crucial and can reduce the chances your teeth being knocked out or fractured. However, accidents can still happen, no matter how cautious we are.
Therefore, in order to be prepared for a dental emergency, make sure you keep your dental surgery phone number stored on your mobile phone, the last thing you want to do it spend time looking it up in an emergency!
Take care of your teeth and ask yourself: Am I ready for a dental emergency?
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Dr. Jenny Kabir is the clinical director of Fresh Dental Smile Clinic. Fresh Dental Smile Clinic is a leading dental clinic specialising in orthodontics in York. They provide unparalleled patient care with the latest, highest quality dentistry available today. Outside of work Jenny enjoys spending time with her two young children and family.