Learn what constitutes a dental emergency and what to do if you need urgent help.
Even if you take excellent care of your smile and practice good oral hygiene habits daily, the reality is that accidents do happen, and anyone can experience a dental injury. But what kind of injury is classified as an emergency? And what should you do if you suffer a severe injury?
What is a dental emergency?
When it comes to defining a dental emergency, there are a few factors that must be considered. These include the severity of the injury, as well as the location and type. The most common types of dental injuries are cracked, broken, and knocked-out teeth. These types of injuries often occur as the result of a hard knock or fall, or when biting on something particularly hard. Sports-related injuries, as well as other accidents in which the mouth is knocked, frequently result in serious damage.
A dental injury that is classified as an emergency is typically one that requires urgent and immediate treatment to save a tooth, reduce severe pain, or stop bleeding.
If you have a severe infection or abscessed tooth, it is important that you see your dentist immediately — these issues are considered emergencies.
If a large piece or an entire tooth has been knocked out, it is advisable to seek urgent treatment. The sooner you see your dentist, the greater the chance that a damaged or lost tooth can be saved.
What should you do in a dental emergency?
If your tooth has been partially dislodged, you should see your dentist immediately. To minimise pain, take over-the-counter pain medication and apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth.
If you have a soft tissue injury that is causing bleeding of your tongue, cheeks, gums, or lips, you can begin by rinsing your mouth with salt water. Apply pressure to the site of the injury with a piece of gauze and place a cold compress outside the mouth — this will help to minimise swelling and bleeding. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, it’s advisable to see your dentist as soon as possible.
If you notice a very painful blister on your gum, you may have an abscess. A dental abscess is an infection that occurs around the root of the tooth or inside the tooth. See your dentist as soon as possible if you are in pain. If left untreated, abscesses can cause severe damage to the surrounding teeth and tissues and can also lead to other health concerns.
If you have a loose or lost filling or dental crown, try to get to your dentist as soon as you can. The same goes for broken braces and wires — never try to repair these yourself. Rather, seek professional help to avoid further damage and injury.
How can you prevent a dental emergency?
Although it’s not always possible to prevent dental injuries, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of an emergency.
If you play a contact sport or participate in any activity that puts you at risk of dental injury — like skateboarding or rugby, for example — you should use a custom-made mouthguard. A mouthguard can go a long way towards protecting your teeth from damage and can prevent emergencies like knocked-out or broken teeth. Chat to your dentist about having one made to fit your mouth comfortably and securely.
It’s also important to understand that even though the enamel of your teeth is very strong, it is possible to damage your teeth by eating particularly hard foods. Chewing on hard candy, for example, can cause teeth to chip and crack so be mindful of what and how you eat.
You can also prevent chips and cracks by not chewing on hard items like food packaging, ice, and fingernails. If you have a bad habit of chewing on your nails or hard pen caps, for example, try to chew on sugar-free gum instead to prevent damage to your smile. Chewing gum can be a good distraction, plus it also promotes the production of saliva in the mouth, which helps to wash away food particles, bacteria, and other debris.
How can we help?
If you are in severe pain or have been in an accident, we can help. At City Smiles, we offer emergency dentistry services and can assist if you need urgent care. To ensure that we have time to treat our emergency patients, we set aside blocks of time that are dedicated to patients in urgent need.
If you have found yourself in a dental emergency, please give us a call at 03 9020 4449 as soon as possible. Our team will take care of you.
We also offer a comprehensive range of other dental treatments for the whole family, including general, cosmetic, and restorative procedures. To find out about the full range of services that we provide at our practice in Melbourne, please have a look here.
To make an appointment at City Smiles in Melbourne, give us a call at 03 9654 6979 or contact us here.