Even with the best dental care and regular visits, things can still go wrong. When it does, we must know how to identify the problem and react quickly so that we can prevent or alleviate the pain. This is what we call a dental emergency.
Dental emergencies are not only painful, but they can also indicate a more serious health condition. They can also lead to permanent damage to the teeth and the supporting structures. This is why it is important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Fortunately, most of the time we can avoid dental emergencies by practicing good oral hygiene and following the advice of our dentists. However, life is full of surprises and sometimes we are faced with unexpected situations that require urgent care. So, how do we know when a situation is truly a dental emergency? What are the common symptoms of a dental emergency and what should we do to manage it?
The American Dental Association defines a dental emergency as any diagnosis that requires immediate action to prevent biological, functional or aesthetic complications. This includes pain, bleeding, swelling or injury to the mouth, neck, or face. Dental emergencies can be categorized into three groups: traumatic, infectious and post-procedural. Generally, most patients who present with dental emergencies are referred to the dentist’s office under normal office hours, while some are referred to the hospital emergency room for more severe injuries such as broken facial bones or severe bleeding.
A cracked tooth can be very painful and may hurt when chewing or drinking. This is because the crack exposes the pulp and root of the tooth, leading to sensitivity to hot or cold food. In addition, the cracked tooth can become dislodged if the pressure is continued for long periods of time.
If you experience a cracked or chipped tooth, first rinse the mouth with warm water and try to save any pieces of the teeth that have been broken off. Then, apply a cloth or piece of gauze to the area to stop the bleeding. You can also place a cold compress on the affected area to control pain and reduce swelling.
Infections that involve the soft tissues of the mouth are usually a dental emergency, especially when they are accompanied by severe pain and a fever. Untreated infections can spread to the contiguous areas of the neck or sinuses, or even the brain and airway, causing life-threatening complications.
The most common post-procedural dental emergency is excessive or prolonged post-extraction bleeding that does not subside within eight to twelve hours after treatment. This may be the result of a congenital bleeding disorder, systemic diseases affecting hemostasis or anticoagulation medications. This can be life-threatening and should be managed by a hematologist in some cases. In other cases the patient may be referred to an oral surgeon for definitive management.urgence dentaire