As much as we try to prevent them, dental emergencies do occur. We can take steps to mitigate the opportunities for injuries to occur by using proper protection for the teeth when we are participating in activities such as contact sports. Outside of using good judgment, how else can we prevent dental emergencies?
In protecting yourself against dental emergencies, it is so important not to overlook the role of preventative dentistry. Regular appointments with your dentist are your best prevention against dental problems. Not only does your dentist perform a comprehensive visual examination of the state of your teeth, jaw and supporting tissues but low-radiation digital X-rays are used to give your dentist an inside look at the structures of the mouth. This provides insight into the health of the teeth and root systems and can identify emerging issues before they become urgent. This allows you and your dentist to partner in a discussion about your next steps. Dentigerous cysts, for example, can severely compromise the health of surrounding root systems and bone. Although these challenges cannot be reversed, they can be treated proactively to prevent their progression. Typically, problems are more easily treated in their early stages than in their advanced stages when they are causing discomfort.
It should be noted that the mouth is a highly vascularized area of the body. This means that the mouth has many blood vessels in it and will bleed more readily than less vascular areas of the body. You might recall this from the last time you accidentally bit your tongue at dinner – ouch! When there is an accident or injury involving a head trauma, it can be easy to focus on damage to the teeth. Despite the blood produced from the teeth, it is critical to assess whether a blow to the teeth or a blow to the head has taken place. In cases such as sports injuries or motor vehicle accidents, head injuries must be prioritized. If there has been an accident and there is a potential head injury, the hospital emergency room should win over an emergency dental visit every time, in order to protect your health. Although the loss of teeth may appear to be the primary concern, prioritizing it over a head trauma can have detrimental implications. We would be happy to assist you in reconstructing the teeth once the head trauma has been assessed and treated. After all, we can reconstruct smiles but not brains.
Breaks or chips require a similar approach. If your tooth breaks, collect the fragments and hold them in the mouth or in dairy milk until you can see your dentist. In many cases, the tooth can be restored using bonding compounds. If the break is severe, you may require a root canal to ensure that you can safely retain the tooth. If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.
An abscess occurs when there is an infection inside the gums or the tooth that results in pain, swelling and sometimes the appearance of pustules along the gums. A pustule resembles a pimple and is full of white or yellowish fluid. If you discover a pustule, call your emergency provider and do not attempt to drain it. If you do not observe a pustule but have pain and a foul taste around the area of pain, this is still a sign of infection. Tooth infections are treated urgently due to their ability to enter the blood stream through the tooth’s blood supply. Do not apply heat to an infection – rather, use an ice pack until you can see a dentist for an emergency dental appointment. If your pain increases in severity and then stops abruptly, this is an indication that the infection has killed the nerve in the tooth – this must still be handled urgently as it will progress in the absence of pain.
If your tooth has been knocked out, stay calm. Collect the tooth and proceed to a sink where the mouth and tooth can be rinsed, and the tooth can gently be replaced in the socket. If the tooth does not slide into the socket, do not force it. In this case, tuck it inside the cheek or keep it in cold milk until you can see a dentist. At no time should you handle the tooth by its root or attempt to clean off any debris from the tooth. Doing so can damage the delicate ligament that will assist the tooth in recovery, if possible. To increase your chances of saving the tooth, see a dentist within thirty minutes. If you are further away than thirty minutes from your dentist, see a dentist nearest to you who can see you immediately. We do hold time to accommodate dental emergencies if they arise, but if we are unable to assist you at the time you need it, proceed to the next nearest dentist. We will be happy to follow up with you and continue your care once the tooth has been treated or saved.