Every good dentist leaves a little room in his or her schedule to deal with dental emergencies. It’s just as well that we do, because we often see patients who are in considerable distress and who need our help fast!
If you’re wondering whether your need is urgent, the best person to ask is yourself. If your mouth has undergone trauma or you are in considerable pain – that’s an emergency. If your dentures have been in an accident and you’re about to go honeymoon, that’s an emergency too.
Here are a few examples of the dental emergency needs we often find ourselves addressing.
Pulpitis or Tooth Decay
This is perhaps the most preventable of dental emergencies. Regular visits to a dentist should ensure that your cavities get the attention they need before they come painful and become an emergency. Pulpitis is either reversable, in which case a filling is all you need, or irreversible. In the latter instance a root treatment may save the tooth. Otherwise, your family dentist will need to extract it.
Chipped, Broken, or Lost Teeth
Did you know that a tooth that it might be possible to return a tooth that has been knocked out to its proper place? Place your tooth in milk and get an emergency appointment as soon as possible! However, chipped, cracked and broken teeth are far more common.
How soon you see a dentist for a chipped, cracked or broken tooth will depend on the degree of discomfort it causes. A slight chip can wait a week or two but must be attended to before bacteria attack the soft exposed dentin.
A break that exposes the nerve will be very painful and will need urgent attention. Sharp broken-off tooth edges that cut the tongue can also be very uncomfortable. Broken fillings or crowns will have much the same effect.
An abscess consists of a build-up of pus either inside or under the tooth or in the gums. As the pus builds up, the pressure and accompanying pain become more intense. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. Ask your dentist for an emergency appointment. If you have an abscess, you will need an urgent root canal treatment and a course of antibiotics or we may need to extract the tooth.
Gum Issues Can be Emergencies Too
There are various infections that can affect the gums and the soft tissues of the mouth. They can be very painful and should be treated before they can get worse. An example of this commonly occurs when wisdom teeth erupt. The tooth partially gets through the gum which then becomes inflamed and very painful.
Getting an Emergency Appointment
The first person you call when you’re faced with a dental emergency should be your family dentist. We do our very best to accommodate all dental emergencies. If our appointment book has already been filled, we’ll refer you to another dentist whenever possible.
If you are unable to reach a dentist during an after-hours emergency, head for the emergency room at your local hospital immediately. Dangerous dental emergencies include an abscess or infection that is making breathing difficult, a knocked-out tooth, suspected broken jaw, or a soft-tissue injury that won’t stop bleeding,