Many people will experience a dental emergency at some point in their life - and sometimes this will be the result of an underlying oral health condition or injury. Here, our St. Thomas dentists provide advice about how to know if your dental issue is an emergency, and what to do.
What is a dental emergency?
If there are any problems with your mouth, gums or teeth that require urgent dental treatment is 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.
When it comes to teeth that have been knocked out of your mouth, a dentist may be able to put the tooth back into place within an hour of it being knocked out. The tooth will have a better chance of taking root again within this time frame. After the two-hour make, the chances of the tooth being able to be placed successfully back into your smile diminish and alternative treatments may have to be considered.
If you experience a toothache you cannot manage with over-the-counter pain medication, first apply ice to the area and contact your dentist as soon as possible, as this is considered a dental emergency.
Toothaches may indicate possible major dental health issues and so, it is important to take them seriously.
Lost fillings are also serious since they expose the interior of your teeth and weaken its structure. Its important to see a dentist in order to have the filling replaced as soon as possible.
You can protect the area until you get to the dentist by replacing the filling temporarily with a softened piece of sugarless gum.
Object Lodged Between Teeth
Objects getting lodged between the teeth can present a hazard and warrant urgent care from your dentist. If you aren't able to dislodge an object from your smile using dental floss, don't use sharp objects to attempt to remove the object itself since this may injury your teeth, gums or even push the object further between your teeth.
Bitten Tongue or Lip
If you are experiencing bleeding that can’t be quelled after biting your tongue or lip, you need to visit an emergency dental clinic. 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 look for urgent dental care.
A dental abscess is a buildup of pus that forms within the teeth or gums. This is a very painful condition that will usually develop from a bacterial infection - often within the soft pulp and tissues of the tooth or its root. Abcesses can be caused by cavities that haven't been treated, serious gum disease or 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.