In some situations, waiting for a scheduled dental appointment may not only be a long-winded, painful process, but it could also be dangerous for your overall oral health. That’s when emergency dental services can help.
There are relatively few ‘true’ dental emergencies, these include: excessive facial swelling and difficulty swallowing caused by an acute infection, facial trauma following an accident or excessive bleeding following tooth extraction. Most other dental emergencies will require a prompt but not necessarily same day appointment.
Read on to see if your dental issue is an emergency, or if it can wait for a scheduled dental appointment.
Types of dental emergency
From severe toothaches to knocked-out teeth, identify when you should be calling for help below.
Often experienced as pain that goes in and around your teeth. Toothache can either come and go or be constant, it can also be triggered by hot or cold drinks and/or food.
Pain can be mild or severe with ‘sharp’ stabbing sensations (particularly at night or when lying down).
What causes severe toothache?
- Tooth decay. This leads to holes (cavities) forming on the hard surface of the tooth.
- Sore or swollen gums around a tooth that’s breaking through. For example, when your wisdom teeth start to grow.
- Periapical abscess. A collection of pus at the end of the tooth caused by a bacterial infection.
Chips or cracks
If you have recently broken or fractured your tooth, it is important to rinse the broken tooth and then put it in a glass of milk or water (ready for when you go to your emergency dentist visit).
Dislodged or knocked-out teeth
Another cause for rapid dental treatment includes a tooth dislodged or knocked out following a fall or blow to the face.
It is important to retain these loose teeth in their socket by softly biting down on the tooth. Once the tooth is located, only the crown should be touched (outside of rinsing).
If softly biting down does not work, or the tooth has already completely fallen out – rinse and place in water or milk ready for your emergency dental appointment.
Soft tissue injury
Have an injury to your lips, gums, interior of the cheeks and tongue? You should contact your emergency hospital immediately. In chronic cases, you should apply pressure to stop bleeding and then lacerations, punctures and rips to soft ties should be washed with warm water.
Dental filling or crown that is missing or loose
Both permanent and temporary restorations can loosen and fall out. Although the latter is far more common, both need urgent dental treatment to ensure the restoration stays for good.
Whilst waiting for the emergency dentist, dental denture glue, Vaseline, or Chapstick can all help to keep the restoration in place.
Steps to take if your tooth or crown falls out
If your tooth or crown falls out, it’s important to act quickly and follow the appropriate steps to minimise the risk of further damage or complications. Here’s what to do:
- Stay calm: It’s essential to remain calm, as stress or panic can make the situation worse. Remember, this is a common dental issue, and your dentist can help you address it.
- Locate the tooth or crown: Carefully find the tooth or crown that has fallen out. Make sure not to touch the root of the tooth if it’s a natural tooth, as this can cause damage.
- Rinse gently: If it’s a natural tooth, gently rinse it with milk or water to remove any dirt or debris. Do not scrub or use soap, as this can damage the tooth. If it’s a crown, you can rinse it with water.
- Attempt reinsertion (for natural tooth): If it’s a natural tooth, try to reinsert it into its socket. Hold the tooth by the crown and gently push it back into place. Bite down on a piece of gauze or a clean cloth to hold it in position. Do not attempt to reinsert a crown.
- Store safely (if reinsertion isn’t possible): If you can’t reinsert the tooth, store it in a small container of milk or water. If none of these is available, place the tooth between your cheek and gum to keep it moist. For a crown, store it in a safe container until you can see your dentist.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers: If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to help alleviate your symptoms.
- Apply a cold compress: To reduce swelling and numb the area, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek near the affected area.
- Contact your dentist: Call your dentist as soon as possible to schedule an emergency appointment. Explain the situation, and follow any instructions they provide. If you can’t reach your dentist, consider visiting an emergency dental clinic.
- Keep the area clean: While waiting for your appointment, continue to practise good oral hygiene. Brush and floss gently around the affected area, and rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help prevent infection.
- See your dentist: Attend your emergency dental appointment as soon as possible. Your dentist will assess the situation and determine the best course of action for repairing or replacing the tooth or crown.
Remember, it’s crucial to seek professional dental advice and care in this situation. Acting quickly and following these steps can help improve the chances of a successful outcome.
Is an abscess a dental emergency?
A dental abscess is a localised collection of pus resulting from a bacterial infection, usually in or around a tooth or gum. It can be painful and may lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Signs of a dental abscess may include:
- Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Sensitivity to pressure when biting or chewing
- Swelling in your face or cheek – this is a true dental emergency and will need an urgent appointment.
- Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
- A foul taste in your mouth or bad breath
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your dentist immediately or visit an emergency dental clinic. It’s essential to seek prompt treatment to prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of your mouth, jaw, or even other parts of your body.
In some cases, an untreated abscess can lead to severe complications, such as cellulitis, a potentially life-threatening infection, or sepsis, a systemic infection that can be fatal. In these instances an emergency appointment is essential and a visit to your local A&E department is advised.
Is wisdom tooth pain an emergency?
Wisdom tooth pain can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, may even require urgent dental attention. However, whether it’s considered an emergency depends on the severity of the pain and the presence of complications.
Some situations where wisdom tooth pain might be considered an emergency include:
- Severe pain: If the pain is unbearable and does not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, it may warrant an emergency visit to your dentist.
- Infection: Signs of infection, such as fever, swelling, and pus around the wisdom tooth, require immediate attention to prevent the infection from spreading – this is considered a true emergency.
- Difficulty opening your mouth: If you experience difficulty opening your mouth or swallowing, it’s essential to see a dentist promptly. In the event of excessive swelling, a visit to your local A&E department may be required.
- Damage to adjacent teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can push against neighbouring teeth, causing damage and pain. This situation may require urgent intervention to prevent further damage.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to contact your dentist as soon as possible. They can assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment and advise, which may include removing the wisdom tooth if necessary.
Why do you need an emergency dentist?
An emergency dentist is needed when you experience dental issues that require immediate attention and cannot wait for a routine dental appointment. These urgent situations often involve severe pain, trauma, or risk of infection, and delaying treatment may lead to more severe complications or permanent damage.
Is a black tooth an emergency?
A black tooth can indicate a serious dental issue, but whether it’s considered an emergency depends on the severity of the problem and accompanying symptoms. A tooth may turn black due to various reasons, including tooth decay, trauma, or a dead tooth.
Here are some situations where a black tooth may require emergency dental care:
- Severe pain: If the black tooth is causing intense, unbearable pain, it may indicate a dental abscess or an infected tooth requiring immediate attention.
- Swelling and inflammation: Swelling in the gums or face, accompanied by a black tooth, can suggest an infection that needs prompt treatment.
- Tooth fracture: If the black tooth is cracked or broken, it may require urgent care to prevent further damage, alleviate pain, and address the potential infection.
If you notice a black tooth without any accompanying pain, swelling, or other concerning symptoms, it may not be an immediate emergency. However, it’s still essential to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause and address the underlying issue.
Does emergency care help with tooth pain?
Emergency dental care can help with tooth pain, especially when it is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms.
Emergency dentists are trained to address various dental issues that require immediate attention, as well as provide appropriate treatment to alleviate pain and address the underlying issue causing the pain. This may include prescribing antibiotics, draining an abscess, performing a root canal, repairing or replacing a damaged tooth or restoration, or extracting a tooth when necessary.
Your dentist and their team have the skills to triage and assess most problems over the telephone and will advise if an emergency appointment is required.
How to access our emergency dentistry services
If you’re experiencing severe tooth pain, it’s important to contact your dentist or if you aren’t registered with a dentist, contact the NHS 111 service. Prompt treatment can help prevent complications and ensure the best possible outcome for your dental health.
For any further questions, please contact our friendly experts today.
How Long Does Composite Bonding Last?
On average, composite bonding lasts around 5-10 years, depending on your eating habits and the location of the tooth. Although the material is hard, it is not as durable as your teeth and can stain, wear-down or chip overtime.
Your composite bonding’s lifespan will depend on whether you effectively manage your oral health with regular brushing and flossing. However, if you find that your composite bonding is beginning to chip or appear discoloured, at Churchfield Dental Centre we can replace or repair the affected area.
To help your composite bonding last a long time you should:
- Clean your teeth twice a day
- Use floss/a flossing device once a day
- Use a non-abrasive toothpaste that contains fluoride
- Avoid chewing on non-edible items e.g. pens
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid overly sugary foods and fizzy drinks
- Have regular dental check-ups
Composite Bonding Process and Recovery Time
With composite bonding, the dentist will roughen the surface of the tooth, and then apply a liquid that helps the resin to bond to the tooth. A tooth-coloured composite resin is then attached to your existing tooth to change the shape, size or colour and then hardened with an ultraviolet light.
There is no recovery time involved with composite bonding. You will not feel any pain, and can go back to work or drive immediately after the procedure.
What Are the Alternatives to Composite Bonding?
If composite bonding isn’t for you, then there are other options including:
Both of these alternatives can cause damage to the teeth. A veneer is a custom-made porcelain shell which is bonded to the front of the tooth, used to cover gaps and correct minor misalignments. Similarly, a crown is a custom-made cap which is placed over the entire tooth. However, to have crowns or veneers you will need your teeth trimming.
Booking Your Consultation
Here at Churchfield Dental Centre, we’ll talk you through a full range of possible treatments including composite bonding, veneers and crowns, making sure we get the best treatment for your specific circumstances. Call our Barnsley team today on 01226 771471.