Emergency Dentistry overview
If you have chipped or broken a tooth as a result of an accident or injury, it is very important that you see a dentist as soon as possible. The same goes for one or more knocked out teeth. The sooner you are seen by a dental professional the better the chances that the teeth could be re-implanted, depending on the severity of your injury.
Here are some of the steps an emergency dental appointment will cover:
A thorough examination of the injured area will be undertaken. This may include dental x-rays to determine the extent of the damage.
Depending on the severity of the pain, the area will be numbed with local anaesthetic.
The injured area will be sterilised to reduce the risk of infection.
The damaged teeth will be restored temporarily or permanently, depending on the case.
In severe cases the affected tooth may require extraction and implant treatment will be discussed.
Pain can be caused by a variety of things, including but not limited to:
An infection - this pain is usually at the throbbing pain and is caused by the pressure of the infection underneath the gums.
Tooth erosion - as your teeth erode with age you may find they become more sensitive, particularly towards the gum margin. This is because the tubules in the dentine transmit the sensations through to the nerve. Treatments to block up these tubules can be done by your dentist and you may find that using a sensitive toothpaste may also help.
General sensitivity - as with tooth erosion some people find that the sensations from the mouth transmit to readily down to the nerves. Dentist can use special sealing agent on teeth to block this transmission, you may also find that using toothpaste is specially formulated for sensitive teeth can help.
Cracked tooth - this type of pain usually is noticed when you bite down on something, the tooth flexes and the sensations from the mouth are transmitted to the nerve. Your dentist will be able to see these cracks which will usually be treated with a dental filling.
What requires urgent dental treatment?
A general rule of thumb is that a dental emergency is any treatment which is required in order to save the tooth, stop ongoing bleeding or alleviate severe pain. Because dental infections can ultimately be life-threatening these are also considered emergencies. Here's a little more detail.
Tooth knocked out
YES this requires emergency treatment by your dentist. If the tooth has been knocked out pick it up by the crown and not the root. Store it in a sealed container keeping it wet. Use a non-fluffy gauze over the socket and ask the patient to bite down gently on it. Do not replace the gauze as this will dislodge the blood clot and the bleeding may begin again. For severe bleeding always visit your local accident and emergency department.
A knocked tooth which has become loose
YES this requires emergency treatment by your dentist.
Severe Pain or Swelling
YES this requires emergency treatment by your dentist. If you have severe pain around your teeth, severe toothache or large dental swelling then this could be a sign of an infection which needs immediate treatment.
Chipped tooth - with bleeding
YES this requires emergency treatment by your dentist, particularly if the tooth itself is bleeding (rather than bleeding from gums around tooth). This could mean that the tooth has chipped so severely that the pulp has become exposed, this will also likely be accompanied by extreme pain.
Chipped tooth - no bleeding
NO this is not normally considered a dental emergency unless it is accompanied by extreme pain.
A dental crown which has come out
NO this is not normally considered a dental emergency. You can usually buy temporary adhesives in a local pharmacy. You do however need to make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible, letting them know the situation so they can arrange a suitable appointment.
Mild to moderate tooth ache
NO this is not normally considered a dental emergency as it has a range of nonemergency causes, such as sensitivity or a cracked tooth. If you have mild to moderate toothache you still need to call your dentist and book an appointment as soon as possible. If you're toothache is severe then ask for an emergency appointment.
If you require emergency dental treatment, you should ask to see a dentist as soon as possible. At our practice we offer appointments for all dental emergencies from toothache to lost or broken crowns, chipped teeth and fillings to abscesses, trauma, avulsed teeth and facial swelling. We can take care of your injuries to ensure you heal quicker and more effectively, ensuring that you avoid additional dental problems and complications in the future.
Preservation of remaining tooth structure.
Reduced risk of infection.
Improved long-term oral health overall.