No matter how well you look after your teeth and gums, there is no guarantee you won’t need emergency treatment once in awhile. Whether it is a broken tooth or crown, dislodged filling or something that is causing you tremendous pain, you can be sure a dental emergency will always crop up at the most inconvenient times.
So what can you do should a dental emergency crop up? Well, the first thing is not to panic but consider exactly what constitutes a dental emergency. Any event that causes severe pain or uncontrollable bleeding, or that requires immediate treatment in order to save the teeth is considered an emergency. The appearance of an abscess and/or infection in the mouth would also need immediate treatment to avoid complications.
If you are going on holiday whether at home or abroad, always make sure your travel insurance covers emergency dental treatment. On home turf ensure you have your own dentist’s out-of-hours telephone number handy. Here are 5 of the most common dental emergencies and what you can do about them.
1. Tooth knocked out
This could happen anywhere, playing sports or falling off a bike for instance. If this happens to you then firstly retrieve the tooth and, holding it carefully by the crown part (the enamel) and not the root, wash it with clean water to dislodge any dirt. You can try to put it back in place in your mouth if possible but don’t force it in. if this isn’t possible put the tooth in a container of milk or salted water then get to a dentist as quickly as possible. If you can get there within one hour the dentist will have the best chance of saving the tooth.
2. Lost crown
See your dentist straight away and take the crown with you. You could try to replace the crown over the tooth using an over-the-counter dental adhesive – never super glue. If you experience pain you could gently swab the area with a little clove oil, or take a mild painkiller like paracetamol.
These often start as a small painful swelling on the gum. Left untreated an abscess can damage surrounding tissue and infection could spread to other parts of the body. See your dentist immediately or, if this is not possible, go to the nearest accident and emergency room. Rinsing your mouth round with a solution of mildly salty water can provide some relief.
If your face swells up this could be an indication of serious infection in the tooth, gum or bone. Don’t delay – get treatment straight away. In the meantime make sure you keep drinking fluids to avoid dehydration and the associated complications.
4. Broken braces or wires
If a snapped brace or wire is sticking into your cheek or gum try to push it back into position using the soft eraser end of a pencil, for example, or try to wedge it using a cotton wool ball or small piece of sterile gauze. Never try to cut a wire or pull it out altogether as you could further damage the teeth or soft tissue. See your dentist as soon as possible to get a professional repair.
5. Cracked or broken tooth
This is something that can cause sensitivity rather than pain but still needs dealing with. Contact your dentist with details of the problem; emailing a photo of the damage will help them to decide what treatment you will need. If a piece of tooth has come away take this with you.
Ensure your dentist is one that offers 24-hour emergency care in a state-of-the-art surgery using the latest techniques – that way you’ll always get the best dental emergency care