A dental emergency happens when there is an issue involving your teeth and the supporting tissues that require immediate attention from your dentist . Although not all dental emergencies are painful, tooth sensitivity and tooth pain tend to be the most common symptoms of a dental emergency. The pain can be experienced in the tooth, or the tissues surrounding the area of the sore tooth. Depending on the level of pain (mild to severe tooth pain) an experienced dental professional can determine the source of the pain to help them better treat the issue. Each tissue type gives different messages during a dental emergency. Dental emergencies can vary from bacterial, fungal or viral infections to a chipped tooth or broken tooth. Each situation requires an individualized response that is unique to the situation, so it is important to see your dentist as quickly as possible if you have a dental emergency. That being said, it may be helpful to discuss the most common dental emergencies that dentists treat.
A toothache can really mess up your day, especially if it’s a severe toothache that affects your ability to eat, sleep, or perform daily activities. A toothache can be caused by food caught between your teeth, cavities, grinding your teeth, or abscesses (tooth infection). Toothaches can be tricky to diagnose as an emergency, because sometimes they are a sign of an urgent problem, but other times a toothache could wait until a regularly scheduled appointment. So, how do you know if your toothache is a dental emergency? If your toothache gives you severe pain that cannot be managed by over the counter medicine, if it throbs like a heartbeat, and has been constant it is considered a dental emergency. Please contact your dentist as soon as possible.
Injuries of the Mouth
Trauma to your mouth from playing sports or experiencing a fall is also a very common dental emergency. If you injure the soft tissue of the mouth, tongue or lips gently rinse the area and hold gauze against the injury to stop any bleeding. Use a cold compress to the outside of the mouth over the injured area to stop or reduce swelling. You can use over the counter pain medication to help manage pain. Contact your dentist immediately, unless your mouth will not stop bleeding, even with the help of gauze. In this case, go straight to the emergency room.
Chipped, Cracked or Broken Teeth
A chipped tooth or a broken tooth is quite common, but is it considered a dental emergency? Well, actually it depends on the symptoms. Typically, a cracked tooth would be something to get looked at sooner rather than later, but not considered to need emergency dental care. Call the dentist to explain your case, and he or she will discuss the situation fully with you. This helps the dental professional determine if it is a dental emergency. In the case that it is an emergency, you will likely be seen as soon as possible. If you end up waiting a bit for your appointment, you can kill time by saving any pieces of the tooth you can find in saltwater or milk. Use a cold compress to the area to help with pain and swelling. Gauze is handy to help control any bleeding.
A Tooth This Is Knocked Loose or a Completely Knocked Out Tooth
A knocked loose tooth is considered a dental emergency and you should seek treatment immediately. If the tooth came out entirely, you can transport it to the dentist in saline solution or milk. The faster you receive treatment, the better chance your dentist has to save your tooth.
Abscesses or Infections
An abscessed tooth is an emergency because it can lead to a dental infection. An abscessed tooth is created when a pocket of pus forms underneath that can cause infection. If the infection spreads to other parts of the body, it could be life threatening. Call the dental office to schedule an emergency appointment immediately. They may recommend that you need a root canal treatment or a tooth extraction which is something you would want to get taken care of sooner rather than later.
How to Help Prevent Dental Emergencies
Accidents happen all the time, and are difficult to avoid, so it is best to try to minimize the damage when accidents do occur. Wear a sports mouth guard when participating in contact sports. Avoid chewing hard food that can damage the teeth. This includes hard candy, cough drops, ice, and any other crunchy, hard foods. Use a scissor to open packages, not your teeth. Finally, practice good oral health and oral hygiene habits. This means a regular professional dental cleaning, dental checkup and exams . It also means brushing your teeth at least twice daily and regular flossing. Teeth are also sensitive to food with a lot of acid, like orange juice and tomatoes, so use discretion when consuming such foods.