Like most emergencies, dental emergencies may not occur very often, but they often occur when you are not prepared for it. However, that need not be the case. There are many things that you can do during a dental emergency to prevent the problem from further escalation, while professional help is being sought.
If you’re thinking of ignoring the symptoms or suppressing the effects with painkillers, you should be aware that it is a risky thing to do. You could very well end up worsening the condition, leading to future complications that require more extensive – and expensive – treatments.
The first thing to do during a dental crisis is this: Do not panic. By remaining calm throughout the process, you would minimise mistakes and the tendency to overreact, which will often render the situation more intense or emotionally charged than it needs to be.
Here are some common dental emergency situations and what you can do as a stop-gap measures:
If you are dealing with a chipped or cracked tooth, you should try to keep the broken fragment in its original condition as best as you can. First, clean the area around the broken tooth and gently remove any food debris or foreign particles (i.e. sand or dirt) by rinsing the area of the mouth with warm water or mild salt solution.
If there’s bleeding, try to stop it by applying a moistened gauze square to the affected area. Apply gentle but firm pressure for about 10 minutes or until bleeding stops. Should bleeding persist after 20 minutes, contact a dentist immediately.
Next, immediately locate the missing tooth and put it into a glass of milk or saltwater solution. That would keep the tooth safe and protected until a dentist reattaches it to the original tooth socket.
An emergency dentist will be able to ascertain whether the damage is cosmetic or if it has damaged your tooth root as a result, before discussing the various options with you. If the tooth is reattached within an hour of it falling out, there is a much better chance of saving it.
Another type of patient that emergency dentists commonly treat is the one who comes in with a severe toothache. There are different levels of pain that suggest specific conditions. If you are experiencing severe pain with swollen gums around the affected tooth, you probably have an infection. Toothaches caused by the bacterial disease known as dental caries do not go away with painkillers. They must be treated immediately or may result in demineralization of the tooth and lead to more serious complications.
Toothaches may also be caused by irregular eruption of a wisdom tooth or development of gum abscesses. Other types include jaw pains or a tooth that hurts only when you’re chewing on something. Whichever the case, all of them may be regarded as dental emergencies.
If you find a child or teenager with a broken orthodontic brace or wires, you can try to remove the broken piece, provided that by doing so, you will not cause any further pain to the child. You should not force or pull on any part of the orthodontic appliance if pain is triggered as a result. This is especially so if the wire is stuck in the gum or cheek. In such cases, try to cover the sharp edges of the broken appliance with cotton and contact an emergency dentist right away.
If a crown or filling has been dislodged by accident, try to slip the crown back into the original position and secure it with toothpaste and immediately see a dentist. Do not attempt to reattach the broken or loosened restoration with glue or any over-the-counter adhesive product.
If you have lost a filling, temporarily fill the spot with sugarless gum and immediately contact a dentist.
Finally, when dealing with a lost crown or filling, you should avoid hot/ cold food and drinks. At the same time, you should try to avoid chewing your food on the side of your mouth with the dislodged filling or crown.
For all the above-mentioned symptoms and problems, a reliable emergency dentist will be able to diagnose the underlying issues and prevent the condition from getting worse. That’s because emergency dentists are trained and experienced in dealing with a whole range of issues that crop up when we least expect them to.
If you are experiencing a dental emergency, please contact Sydney CBD Dental immediately at 02 9051 0503.