Identifying Dental Emergencies
When you think about oral injuries, you may first picture a new-to-walking child stumbling or an athlete taking one for his or her team. However, oral injuries can occur at any age. Handling these injuries properly when they occur ensures that your smile stays beautiful, healthy, and strong for life.Many general dentists offer emergency services, but how do you know whether you need emergency assistance or can wait for your next regular appointment? In this blog, we list common symptoms associated with dental emergencies.
A Missing Tooth
As an adult, you may assume your experiences with lost teeth are over. However, permanent teeth can become dislodged after an impact injury. For example, adult teeth could be lost when airbags deploy in a car accident or during a fall down a flight of stairs.
Not only does getting a tooth knocked out hurt, but missing teeth can also cause serious issues for your smile. If you lose a tooth unexpectedly, try to find it and gently rinse it with water. Do not touch the root or remove any tissue. If possible, keep the tooth in milk until you can see a dentist.Missing permanent teeth are always considered a dental emergency.
Constant or Intense Oral Pain
Tooth, soft tissue, or jaw pain can result from any number of causes, from cavities to sinus congestion. You can address much of this pain through the use of over-the-counter pain relievers and warm or cold compresses.
However, if the pain is sudden, intense, constant, or unlike any oral pain you have experienced previously, the discomfort could indicate a serious health issue. Consult with a dentist as soon as possible to address the underlying cause of the pain.
The term dental appliance includes most permanent items placed in the mouth to improve oral health or tooth appearance. For example, dentures, crowns, and even fillings can fall into this category.
These appliances often respond differently to injury or disease than natural tooth enamel does. If you notice cracking, chipping, or displacement, see your dentist for repairs.
In some cases, a dental appliance can become completely dislodged and lost. This type of dental emergency is particularly common with crowns, fillings, and other small dental items. It’s important to have a lost appliance replaced as soon as possible to safeguard against potential complications.As with a missing tooth, locate the dental appliance if you can. If you find the appliance, clean it gently and transport it to the dentist’s office in a sturdy container to avoid any warping or breakage on the trip.
Your dentist may attempt to replace the appliance or simply use the existing appliance to inform the creation of a replacement.
Persistent Soft Tissue Bleeding
You may not think of your own teeth as particularly sharp, but in an impact incident the teeth can easily damage oral soft tissue. And if a cut begins to close on its own with minimal bleeding, you may not need the help of an emergency dentist.
However, if the bleeding persists for more than 30 minutes or accompanies any of the other warning signs of a dental emergency on this list, see a dentist. Additionally, any soft tissue injury where the teeth become embedded in or break through the tissue require medical attention.
Sudden Changes to Eating or Speaking Abilities
You may be able to live with some dental problems until your regularly scheduled exams. However, if an oral problem affects your ability to eat or speak normally, the issue constitutes a dental emergency.
These emergencies can take many forms, so it’s important to pay attention to any changes to your teeth and mouth. For example, tooth looseness could cause a lisp while advanced tooth decay could cause pain when you’re chewing on one side.
Take note of your symptoms so you can give your dentist as much information as possible when he or she evaluates your oral health.
Visible Misalignment, Discoloration, or Cracking
While many dental emergencies result in new sensations, others are visible even to the untrained eye. For example, an impact injury directly to a single tooth could chip off a piece, cause a fracture, or damage the nerve.
If you see a chip, crack, or any discoloration, such as a tooth turning gray, after an oral injury, have a dentist assess the damage.
You should also schedule an emergency appointment if the alignment of your teeth changes significantly in an unplanned way. The misalignment caused by oral injuries can increase your risk of tooth decay and loss if not addressed soon after the injury occurs.
If you experience any of the dental issues listed above, whether the problem develops over time or happens due to an acute injury, seek the help of a qualified emergency dentist.
If possible, see your dentist within two hours after any tooth removal or breakage and within two days of any other emergency developments.