Though most of us try to do our best in looking after our teeth through regular brushing and flossing, sometimes accidents or emergencies can still occur. Knowing what can cause a dental emergency, and what you can do about it, is essential to getting you and your family prepared for any potential dental trauma.
What causes a dental emergency?
There are numerous events that can lead to a dental emergency occurring. A physical blow to the jaw can cause a tooth, or even multiple teeth, to become less stable, fracture, or even be removed entirely from the tooth socket. An abscess – a build-up of bacteria inside a tooth’s pulp chamber that becomes infected – can also lead to intense pain requiring emergency dental treatment before the infection spreads further. Likewise, if you happen to grind your teeth at night – a condition known as ‘bruxism’ – it can lead to severe jaw pain, headaches, and potentially tooth loss.
What to look out for
The causes of dental emergencies can be split into two main categories – immediate dental trauma, and chronic conditions like an abscess. For the first category, any pain, swelling or bleeding at the site of impact are indicators that dental trauma is likely to have happened, as is a missing, chipped or loose tooth.
When it comes to chronic conditions that need emergency dental treatment, one of the main indicators is severe gum, tooth or jaw pain. This can indicate that a tooth is cracked or decaying, with the nerve inside exposed. Painful or bleeding gums, loose teeth, and sores and lumps in the mouth can also signify that you might suffer from a gum disease like periodontitis or gingivitis, or that one of your fillings has been damaged.
What can be done about it?
For dental emergencies caused by dental trauma you should, of course, consult your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, try re-implanting the tooth into its correct place immediately, if possible. If this is unachievable, store the tooth temporarily in milk or a saline solution, but never in normal water – this will kill the still-living cells of the tooth and reduces the likelihood of successful re-implantation.
For dental emergencies caused by chronic conditions, the treatment methods can vary. If the decay or tooth structure loss has progressed to the point where a simple filling will not suffice, but the remaining tooth structure can still be used for an appropriate dental prosthesis, then root canal therapy may be necessary. Root canal therapy irrigates and cleans out the bacteria in the root canal of the infected tooth, allowing the remaining root canal system to be shaped so an appropriate filling can be placed.
Root canal therapy is usually conducted over multiple appointments to give the dentist and their tools the best chance to remove all of the harmful bacteria. However, even though this may not be all that appealing, maintaining your natural teeth is always better than having one replaced by a bridge, denture or even a dental implant.
With quick, decisive action, you can make sure that your emergency dental treatment is as beneficial to your teeth as possible.
Looking after your teeth in emergency situations doesn’t need to be difficult. Get in touch with the dedicated team at Marsfield Dental to find out more about how we can help you in these times.