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When it comes to your oral health, there are many undesirable issues that you try to avoid experiencing, such as tooth decay, gum disease and more. You work hard, with the help of your dentist, to protect and maintain your oral health through proper oral hygiene habits and dental care, but unfortunately undesirable issues can still sometimes arise. It is certainly important to address and resolve all of these issues in a timely manner; however, there are some issues that require more urgent and immediate care, and it is important to recognize these dental emergencies when they occur.
What is a Dental Emergency?
Dental emergencies can occur as a result of eating food that is too hard, experiencing a fall, having a sports-related injury or being involved in any type of accident. Some dental emergencies require treatment as soon as possible during your dentist’s next normal business hours, while other dental emergencies require immediate treatment. Determining which is the case in a specific situation depends upon where the injured tooth is located in the mouth and how severe the injury to that tooth is. Following are some of the most common dental emergencies and how you should respond to them:
- Bitten tongue or lip. This is undoubtedly a very painful condition, but it often can be handled at home. Clean the area thoroughly with water and reduce swelling with a cold compress. In the case of severe or persistent bleeding, seek immediate care through your dentist or an emergency clinic or emergency room.
- Toothache. Toothaches can be dull and aching or sharp and extremely painful. If the pain is not severe, you should contact your dentist during their normal business hours and schedule an emergency appointment to assess the problem and get it resolved. If the pain is severe, and especially if it comes on suddenly, you should seek immediate care through your dentist or an emergency clinic or emergency room.
- Cracked teeth. A minor tooth fracture that is not accompanied by nerve damage is usually able to wait until normal business hours for treatment (though that means you need to contact your dentist as soon as they are next open–do not delay). A more severe fracture, or any fracture that is accompanied by loss of normal sensation in the tooth, requires immediate treatment through your dentist or an emergency clinic or emergency room.
- Broken teeth. As is the case with cracked teeth, determining whether a broken tooth requires immediate treatment or can wait until normal business hours depends upon how severe the break is and whether there is nerve damage. If there is a major portion of tooth missing or you feel you have lost sensation in your tooth, contact your dentist for immediate treatment or visit an emergency clinic or emergency room. If it is a small chip and you experience full, normal sensation in your tooth, contact your dentist to see them on a more urgent basis, but during their normal business hours.
- Knocked out teeth. Where a tooth has been knocked out entirely, immediate treatment is necessary and essential. If the entire tooth has come out clean, you should try to handle it as little as possible, and even reinsert it into its socket, biting down on a moist tea bag or gauze if possible. If you cannot get the tooth back into the socket, gently rinse it to remove visible dirt and keep it in a container of milk until you arrive at the dentist. A cold, wet compress held over the empty socket can help with discomfort and bleeding. Once you arrive at the dentist office your dentist will need to assess the situation and determine whether the tooth may be able to be reinserted so it can eventually regain the firm ligament structure it needs to be strong and healthy, whether any pieces of the tooth or root remain and need to be handled, and whether any replacement or restoration needs to occur.
- Broken jaw. Regardless of what has caused a broken jaw, this condition requires immediate, emergency treatment. You should try to contact your dentist first, but if you cannot reach them you should go to the nearest emergency clinic or emergency room as soon as possible.
In the case that you experience sudden and severe dental pain but the cause is not clear, you may have an abscess or some other emergency that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Call Today’s Dental immediately to schedule an emergency appointment, using the office emergency line as necessary after normal business hours.