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Emergency Dentistry 

There are many dental problems that can quickly escalate into dental emergencies without the right care and attention.

Some of the most common issues that require urgent assistance are: painful toothache; chipped, cracked and broken teeth; broken jaws; knocked out teeth and lost fillings and crowns to name but a few.

How to cope with a dental emergency 

Dental emergencies occur all the time and for a number of reasons. In a lot of cases they cannot be helped and are purely accidental, but there are a few things that you can do yourself straight after the incident that will alleviate the pain and make the situation better whilst you seek an emergency dentist who can sort out the situation. Things such as keeping a knocked out tooth healthy by placing it in a glass of milk for instance, will help to increase the chances of the tooth’s survival, making it easier for a dentist to replant.

Of course the advice required to improve the situation will all depend on the kind of injury sustained, so, with this in mind, we have compiled a list of a few of the most common emergency dental injuries and also provided advice that will help you cope better with the situation until you get to see the dentist. We will also explain to you what will happen when you reach the dentist, just so your mind can be put at ease. Remember, the most important thing of all is to ring the dentist immediately; don’t delay. In all emergency cases, it is advised that you try to get to a dentist within an hour of the incident occurring.

What happens if I have… 

Cracked, chipped or broken teeth 

Cracked, chipped or broken teeth are common dental problems that tend to require emergency assistance because, if they are simply left, they can become susceptible to infection and decay. This kind of damage to the teeth can occur in a number of ways, whether it be partaking in sport, or simply biting into food that is too hard. Whatever the reason, it is important you take action quickly if you want to stand a good chance of the teeth being saved.

The first thing you should do if this kind of incident happens to you is to contact the dentist immediately. After this you will then have to ensure that the tooth is looked after as best as it can be, and if there are any broken pieces, it is important that you gather them and take them to the dentist with you.

Once at the dentist, he/she will analyse your tooth and your mouth to determine what the best course of action will be. They will also look to see if there is any decay present, as this could have made the teeth weaker in the first place, and they will then analyse how badly damaged the tooth is and make a decision on what work to undertake based on what they see. The dentist will also establish whether or not the damage is cosmetic, or whether it will need structural work, such as a filling or a crown. If the tooth is practically shattered or is extensively damaged, an extraction may be necessary. A dentist will always try to avoid the latter situation, however, as it is known that extracting teeth can affect bone structure which can impact on other teeth.

Painful toothache 

Everyone of us has experienced intense and slightly painful toothache from time to time, but you will no doubt know when toothache requires emergency care as the pain will become unbearable and you won’t be able to eat or drink or even open your mouth.

If you have extreme tooth pain, the only thing that you can do is ring the emergency dentist without delay as it may be a sign of extreme dental decay and an abscess forming.

Broken jaw

A broken jaw is normally as a result of a serious head collision or trauma and is one of the most severe dental emergencies that requires urgent professional attention.

If you think that you have broken your jaw it is important that you get someone to call for immediate assistance as the pain could become unbearable. Whilst on your way to the dentist, there are a few things that you can do that may bring the pain and swelling down. You are advised to put a cold compress on the side of the face if it starts swelling up, and if you are bleeding then you are also advised to put something in place to stop the flow of blood, as you may end up swallowing it. In some extreme cases, if you fear the jaw is badly broken, you may wish to give it a bit of extra support by asking someone to wrap a bandage around your head.

Once at the dentist, he/she will assess the situation and decide what treatment would be the best for your circumstance. If the breakage is classed as ‘minor’ then painkillers and a liquid diet for a time will probably be sufficient as the jaw will probably naturally re-set itself after a month or so.

Treatment will be different if the break is more severe. In this instance, your dentist will have to realign the jaw by hand and then will need to wire it into position. The wire will remain in place for a few months. After this period your jaw should be back to normal in terms of positioning, but you may occasionally experience aches and pains as well as tenderness in that area. A soft food/liquid diet will probably need to be incorporated into your lifestyle.