No one wants to experience a medical emergency. However, if something happens to us or someone we’re with, we all know to go to the medical emergency rooms at our local Accident & Emergency centre or hospital.
What qualifies as a dental emergency?
A dental emergency could be a mouth or tooth-related injury that won’t stop bleeding, a knocked-out tooth, or intense pain that won’t stop. In cases like this, seeing a dentist right away should be your priority.
What you should do in a dental emergency?
If you think you, or someone close to you, has a dental emergency, call your dentist immediately. Because unexpected events happen quickly, make sure you have your local dentist’s number handy. If it’s after hours, most dentists have a message about who to call or where to go in a dental emergency.
If it’s during normal office hours, your local dentist’s reception will be alerted and book you in for an emergency appointment. They’ll also give you tips on how to manage the pain and/or bleeding until then.
Does your dental emergency require a hospital visit?
If you have damaged teeth as a result of a head injury or trauma, there are broken bones, or a lot of blood, you should head straight to the hospital. The same applies if the injury is interfering with your ability to swallow or breathe. A dentist can assess and treat you once you are stabilised in the hospital.
What should you do for a knocked-out tooth?
If you, or someone you’re responsible for, has had a tooth knocked out there is a good likelihood the tooth can be saved. First, locate the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the top of the tooth with the chewing surface). You should avoid touching the root because it contains fibres essential for healing. If you touch the root, you might damage these and reduce the chances your tooth can be saved.
Once you have the tooth, rinse it off with milk or cold water. If you can, put the tooth back in its socket and bite down gently on a piece of gauze to keep it in place. If it won’t stay, put it in your mouth next to your cheek or keep it in a glass of milk until you get to the dentist. Time is of the essence, however, so call your dentist immediately and let them know the situation.
What should you do if you have a tooth abscess or infection?
Dental abscesses are caused by a variety of things. The most common ones are poor dental hygiene, overconsumption of sugary or starchy food, an injury, or recent surgery to your teeth or gums.
A dental abscess can lead to a severe infection which can become potentially life-threatening, as the infection can spread to other areas of your body and make you very unwell. If you are concerned you might have a dental abscess, contact your dentist right away.
What should you do until your appointment?
While you are waiting for an appointment for a dental emergency, there are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort. Firstly, take some over the counter painkillers. These may take some time to work, so take them as soon as possible.
Alternating ibuprofen and paracetamol, which are common painkillers in most homes, will help you manage the pain until you can see your dentist. Ensure you read the instructions and don’t exceed the recommended dosage.
Injuries to the jaw and gums can result in swelling, so use an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel or cloth to reduce these symptoms. You should only keep an ice pack on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to avoid tissue damage. For best results, press the ice pack firmly onto the affected area, ensuring there is cloth or other soft material between your skin and the ice.
It’s also important to not chew anything, as this may exacerbate the problem and cause more pain. While you wait, try to rest and keep yourself, or the person you’re with, calm until it’s time for the appointment.
A dental emergency can happen at any time. If you are unsure if you are experiencing a dental emergency call your dentist immediately. Let them know what’s happening, and follow their advice.
How Hamilton Dental Centre can help you with a dental emergency
If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, get in touch with us as soon as possible. Delaying will only diminish the chances of getting an appointment. If we are unable to fit you in an emergency time, then we will triage you over the phone and help you in any way we can until we can see you.
Note: The appointment request link is intended for non-urgent enquiries only. If you are in need of urgent care or advice, please call us on 0800 004 118 or call your nearest emergency dental centre after-hours.