You probably know what to do in a medical emergency – you may even be first aid trained – but a dental emergency? You may not even be sure what a ‘dental emergency’ is, so we’re hoping to answer all these question in this blog.
What is a ‘dental emergency’?
We’re talking about something that needs immediate attention, regardless of what time of day or night it is.
You should seek emergency dental treatment
- If you’ve knocked your tooth out completely
- If you’ve knocked your tooth so it’s been displaced (although it might still be attached by some tissues)
- If you are in severe pain following an impact to your mouth even if your teeth are still in place
- If you have broken your tooth and it has left sharp edges causing further damage to your mouth area
- If you are suffering from an infection which is making you seriously unwell or causing swelling which is obstructing an airway
What should I do in a dental emergency
If the damage to your teeth is not the only injury you have suffered, you may well need to go straight to A&E – if head injuries, damage to your back or neck, a broken limb or excessive bleeding is involved, the dental treatment is probably secondary to the other medical issues.
If the emergency occurs during ‘surgery hours’ try and speak to your dentist. They will be able to advise you whether they can treat you appropriately, or if not, where you should go. Out of hours – over night or at weekends, your dental surgery should have left emergency details on the answer machine message. Otherwise, you can seek emergency advice from NHS 111.
What isn’t a dental emergency?
It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between something that needs attention as a priority, but isn’t an emergency. Although you will need to make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible, the following are unlikely to be classed as a ‘dental emergency’ needing immediate treatment.
- A toothache (as opposed to severe pain). This may well be a sign of an underlying problem, but can be dealt with through a regular appointment.
- Signs of infection. You will need to see a dentist as soon as you can, but not necessarily as an ‘emergency’. You will be prescribed antibiotics if appropriate and given a plan for any future treatment that might be needed.
- Lost crown or a filling. You may need a temporary repair if a nerve has been exposed causing pain.
- Breaking a set of braces is not normally a dental emergency, unless it is causing damage to your mouth.
While not ‘dental emergencies’ you should still speak to your dentist as a priority in order to make an appointment and deal with the problem you are experiencing.
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