What to Do in a Case of Dental Emergency
Severe toothache has to be one of the worst pains. It hits like a sledgehammer, and while it’s there it seems like it’s taking over your body and life completely. You battle to sleep, and don’t want to even think about eating – and you would do almost anything to get rid of the pain. What you should do in an emergency, of course, is to contact your emergency dentist immediately, because if the pain is that bad, it probably is one.
Although it might prove difficult to get an appointment immediately, particularly after hours or during the weekend, many dentists do respond to out-of-hours emergencies. Most also keep time available during normal hours to slot in a patient who really needs help.
When choosing a dentist, it is wise to check their emergency policy and take note of any emergency call number. You don’t know when an emergency could strike. And when it does you want to be able to take action immediately. In the event that you cannot get hold of your dentist, in a true emergency you should go to the nearest hospital.
What classifies as an emergency?
Emergency treatment may be needed following traumas like sports injuries, accidents, and blows to the mouth. If the pain is severe, the mouth or surrounding area are bleeding or swollen; if there are lumps on your gums, or any of your teeth are loose or badly fractured, taking immediate action may save a tooth or teeth, and prevent the need for tooth replacement. These are all classified as dental emergencies.
You will also need to act immediately if you have the slightest suggestion that an abscess is developing at the roots in your gums. The biggest indicators are a swelling that resembles a pimple, and pain when you bite. Abscesses can be very dangerous, and possibly even life-threatening. They can damage gum tissue, harm other teeth, and spread infection throughout your body, if not treated immediately.
What to do while waiting
As time could affect the outcome, there are steps you can take immediately while waiting for professional treatment.
- Pain: Swallowing a painkiller and applying an ice pack to the cheek could help relieve the situation. Never put the pain tablet against the gum inside your mouth as it might burn the gum tissue.
- Bleeding: If you have had tissue injury of any sort, like puncture wounds, tears and lacerations, clean it using a clean cloth and warm water. Then apply pressure to the area that’s bleeding using gauze, and get to the dentist or hospital as quickly as possible.
- Swelling: An ice-pack can help with swelling of the cheek or lip.
- A knocked-out or partly dislodged tooth may be saved, provided it is returned to its socket in 30 minutes to one hour, at the longest. If the tooth is loose and out of alignment, try very gently to push it back into position. If it’s been knocked out completely, it’s clean and there’s no chance you might swallow it, you could try to return it to its socket. Work gently, holding the tooth by the top end and avoiding touching the roots. Don’t use force on the tooth. If you’re not succeeding, put it in a container with some milk, your own saliva or water with a little salt in it, and take it with you to the dentist.
- Something stuck between your teeth: Never use anything sharp or hard to get it out because that could cut your gums or damage the enamel on your teeth. Working carefully and without using force, try to ease it out. If you don’t succeed, you should see your local dentist in Vancouver.
As in any other emergency situation, remain as calm as possible, and take action straightaway. Make it easier on yourself by preparing a little container with gauze, a handkerchief and a suitable painkiller that’s unlikely to thin the blood, and write your dentist’s emergency number on the lid to help in an emergency. And chat to your dentist at your next regular check-up for his or her advice on how to be ready for one.