Many people have dental emergencies at some point in their lives, sometimes as a result of underlying health conditions or injuries. Here, our Lethbridge dentists give some advice about how to know if a dental health issue is an emergency and what to do if there is one.
What is a dental emergency?
Any pressing issue affecting your teeth or mouth's soft tissues that requires immediate treatment qualifies as a dental emergency. Specifically, this can include:
Broken, Chipped, or Knocked Out Tooth
A broken or chipped tooth can usually be repaired, but will require urgent dental care. The dentist may be able to repair the fracture or chip with a filling, whereas more serious breaks may need a crown or root canal.
For teeth that have been knocked out, a dentist may be able to put a tooth back into its socket and save it within about an hour of the incident. The tooth will have a better chance of taking root again within this timeframe.
After two hours, the chances of saving the tooth significantly decrease and alternatives will have to be considered.
If you are experiencing a toothache that you can't manage with over-the-counter pain medications, apply ice to the area and contact your dentist as soon as possible. This is considered to be a dental emergency.
Toothaches can indicate potential major dental issues, and so it is important to take them seriously.
Lost fillings can be quite serious, since they expose the interior of your tooth and weaken its structure. Make sure you see a dentist in order to have the filling replaced as quickly as possible. You can help protect the area until your dentist is able to treat it by replacing your filling temporarily with a piece of sugarless gum.
Object Lodged Between Teeth
Objects getting lodged between the teeth can present a hazard and warrant urgent attention from your dentist. If you cannot dislodge the object with floss, do not use a sharp object to attempt to remove it yourself as this could push it further between your teeth - or injure your gums.
Bitten Tongue or Lip
If you are experiencing bleeding that can't be stopped after biting your tongue or lip, you should visit an emergency dental clinic as soon as possible. In the meantime, apply a clean cloth to the part of the mouth that's bleeding and press down.
Use an ice pack to reduce swelling and see immediate urgent care.
A dental abscess is a buildup of pus which forms inside the teeth or gums. This very painful condition usually develops from a bacterial infection, often within the soft pulp of the tooth or the root of the tooth. They can be caused by a cavity that’s been left untreated, severe gum disease or perhaps a chipped tooth.
Symptoms can include anything from a bad taste in your mouth to swollen glands, pain, pus or a fever. An abscessed tooth will usually need surgery to drain the infection and treat it properly. Treatment for dental abscesses can involve root canal surgery.