Getting scheduled appointments with your dentist can take time. Getting an appointment out with inconvenient times can be a struggle. That alone can make dental issues feel more urgent, but deciding what truly constitutes as a dental emergency can be difficult.
Many dental practices offer a 24-hour emergency dentist appointments. Some may even have an on call dentist who can advise you on whether what you’re experiencing is a true dental emergency. If you feel you need emergency dental care with a 24-hour dentist, we aim to tell you if you should contact them. Alternatively, you can phone your Primary Care Trust helpline, or NHS Direct.
What injuries could be a dental emergency?
One reason could be an avulsed tooth, or avulsed teeth. Avulsed means knocked out completely. If this happens you we reckon you’d be in a lot of pain, and your mouth will be bleeding. You will need to retrieve your tooth or teeth, or get someone nearby to help with that. Then get help from a 24-hour emergency dentist within the next hour. Prompt action can mean the difference between saving your teeth, and losing them permanently.
An extruded tooth is a similar kind of injury to an avulsed tooth. It is usually caused by impact, but the tooth has not actually come out. It might have been knocked away from its usual position, or it might be hanging in by thin threads of tissue. If you are able to push the tooth back into position, you need to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible, particularly if you are in a ‘hanging by the thread’ situation.
A broken tooth seems like an obvious dental emergency. However, if the end of the tooth has broken away, but there is no bleeding, this is less of a dental emergency. You may be able to wait to see a dentist the next day should that be your situation. If the broken tooth has also been knocked out of position, and the broken edge is sharp, this is a dental emergency that needs to be seen immediately because of the danger of your tongue or lips being damaged by the rough edge.
Damage causing severe pain or bleeding would be another reason to pick up the phone.
If you have been in an accident that has resulted in a blow to the face or jaw you might experience sever pain or bleeding. If you have severe pain in your teeth, there may be serious damage even though no teeth are obviously missing or broken. You will need an X-ray or other investigation to find out if you need treatment. Most dentists agree that severe pain after trauma always qualifies as a dental emergency. However, Any damage to the teeth that causes significant bleeding, particularly blood loss that does not stop within a few minutes, is a dental emergency.
Severe pain, swelling or bleeding following a dental procedure would also constitute as a dental emergency and you should contact someone immediately. You will need to see an emergency dentist for an urgent assessment to find out what problem has developed, and emergency dental treatment to prevent tooth loss and avoid infection.
What isn’t a dental emergency?
Toothache can be incredibly painful. However, if there hasn’t been any injury beforehand, any bleeding, or obvious serious infection, a bout of toothache is not a dental emergency. Similarly gum abcesses or boils can be painful. But, these can develop quickly and grow quite large in a small time. This suggests a dental emergency, but they are rarely as painful as a tooth abscess, and tend to go down within a couple of days.
Breaking your braces could be an emergency if the break has damaged your mouth or teeth. Otherwise, broken braces can usually be repaired temporarily or left off for a short time while you can make an appointment with your usual dentist. The loss of veneers is also not an emergency.
We hope this has cleared up a few things for you and if you still feel like you have a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to contact a dentist!
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