Every day we take risks in the activities we do despite the steps we take to avoid them. We wear sports guards, helmets and padding while playing sports – but does that prevent emergencies? We take care of our teeth and clean them regularly – does that totally prevent infection?
The fact is, no matter how much preparation and caution we exercise, there is always a risk of emergencies. You might own a first aid kit, but would you know what to do if you or a member of your family was suffering a dental emergency? Here’s what you need to know about dental emergencies and how to care for them until you are able to see a dentist for an emergency appointment.
What is an Emergency?
Not every accident requires an emergency dentist, for example, breaking a tooth. If you’ve broken a tooth, the first thing to do is to assess the damage. Has the break opened the tooth canal? If so, you’ll be able to see the chamber of the tooth. This is particularly painful, since the nerve is exposed, and it must be treated right away. If the inner chambre is not visible, you may not require emergency treatment and you can then book to be seen in the days following the incident. If you’re not sure, it may be helpful to call the dentist’s office for direction.
Similarly, infections in the mouth can be serious, since there is so much blood supply. The risk of not addressing the infection means that it could spread dangerously. Patients with severe toothaches often think that when the pain disappears, the problem is solved, when what really happened is that the infection killed the nerve.
Dental toothaches should be manageable with over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen, until you can see your dentist to investigate. If the pain worsens, and cannot be relieved with these medications, you should see your dentist for an emergency appointment. Infections can sometimes present with a whitehead of pus on the gum line – a clear sign that there’s a problem that must be addressed. If the pustule is leaking, rinse your mouth regularly with water, but do not pop it if it has not ruptured on its own. Instead, try icing the outside of your cheek near the infection site. The cold will work to decrease inflammation and relieve pain until you can see your dentist. We recommend a fifteen-minute break between 10-minute icing sessions.
If your tooth has been knocked out, you will require an emergency dental appointment to replace it and give it the best chance of being saved. Chances of keeping your tooth is better when you see a dentist within a half-hour. After that, the likelihood of successfully replacing the tooth in the socket decreases.
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Axis Dental Clinic's Process
Our process to ensure that all of your dental needs are properly met and attended to.
2. Check Up
Dental First Aid
When a tooth is knocked out, you will want to stop the bleeding as soon as possible, which is done by rolling a square piece of clean gauze and placing it sideways in the gap where your tooth used to be. Add pressure by biting the gauze gently and replace when the gauze is soaked. Now that the bleeding is under control, it is important to locate the tooth and handle it by its tip – never the root. If there is tissue or debris attached to the root, make sure that it remains in place, since this may be tissue from the ligament required to fully reattach. Simply rinse in cold water and put it in a clean vessel with some cold milk. If milk and containers are not available, rinse the tooth and push it down in your cheek pocket. Once the bleeding is stopped and the tooth located, call the emergency dentist nearest to you at the time of the incident even if this is not your regular dentist. The emergency dentist will stabilize the tooth, if possible, and then recommend that you return to your usual doctor for further care.
Tooth chips and fragments should be collected, rinsed, and brought with you to your appointment. In some cases, these tooth fragments can be bonded back into place using a white filling product. If you aren’t able to find the chips, your dentist will advise you of your options which may be along the lines of veneers or bonding to bring your tooth back to its ideal colour and form. Your dentist wants you to have the best possible outcome, so we encourage you to ask as many questions as you need in order to feel content with your decision.
The potential for accidents to occur is ever-present, but we shouldn’t let it determine our lives or cause unnecessary worry. In the event of an emergency, your dentist will be there to support you and your oral health.
If you have questions about these or other services offered by our general dentists, contact our clinic today.