A dental emergency can happen to almost anyone, sometimes as a result of underlying oral health conditions or injuries. Our Scarborough dentists provide advice about how to know if your dental issue is an emergency, and what to do.
What counts as a dental emergency?
Any issues involving your teeth, mouth or gums that requires urgent dental treatment is a dental emergency. Some examples of dental emergencies can include:
Broken, Chipped, or Knocked-Out Tooth
A broken or chipped tooth can usually be repaired by a dental professional but will require urgent dental care. The dentist may be able to repair a minor 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 it back in if the patient is seen within approximately an hour of the incident. The tooth has a better chance of taking root again within this time frame. After the two-hour mark, the chances decreases significantly, and alternative measures will have to be considered.
If you experience a toothache that doesn't respond to over-the-counter pain medication, apply ice to the area and then contact your dentist as soon as possible, as this is considered a dental emergency.
Toothaches can be indicators of potential major dental issues, and so it is important to take them seriously.
A lost filling is also serious as it exposes the interior of your tooth, causing structural weakness. It’s important to see a dentist to have the filling replaced as soon as possible, in in the meanwhile you can temporarily protect the area until you get to the dentist by replacing the filling temporarily with a softened piece of sugar-free gum.
Object Stuck Between Teeth
Objects getting lodged between the teeth can present a hazard and could warrant urgent attention from your dentist. If you're unable to 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 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 pocket of pus that forms inside the teeth or gums. This extremely painful condition usually develops as a result of a bacterial infection, often within the soft pulp of the tooth or the root of the tooth. Dental abscesses can be caused by a cavity that’s been left untreated, severe gum disease, or perhaps a chipped tooth.
Symptoms can include a bad taste in your mouth, 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.