May 25, 2023
Dental emergencies can often be traumatic. Not only are most of them associated with intense pain, but there is also the added stress of paying for (often) complex treatment to solve the problem. Though this sounds stressful, the good news is that, for the most part, dental emergencies are usually preventable (unless it occurs because of an accident).
What is a dental emergency?
Dental emergencies can be life-threatening conditions that require immediate treatment to stop prolonged tissue bleeding, severe pain, or infection. Some examples of dental emergencies include the following:
- Pulpitis: this is inflammation of the pulp due to some insult or injury (like a large cavity). It often causes pain with hot, cold, or sweet stimuli of short or long duration.
- Abscess: This is a pocket of pus usually found at the base of a badly decayed tooth associated with localized pain and swelling on the gum.
- Cellulitis: This is swelling of the soft tissue spaces within the face, resulting from a grossly decayed tooth associated with pain. A severe complication is that if it spreads to tissue spaces within the lower jaw and neck, the airway could become compromised.
- Pericoronitis: is inflammation of the gum over a partially erupted tooth, most commonly third molars, and typically causing pain, swelling, and infection.
- Fractured tooth: a tooth can be fractured by trauma to the face or break because it is badly decayed.
- Avulsed tooth: this is entirely out of the socket, and it commonly occurs when children sustain traumatic injuries to the face.
- Uncontrolled bleeding: this is a possible postoperative complication of extraction, and it usually occurs if the patient has not followed postoperative instructions carefully or if the patient is medically compromised (has a bleeding disorder) or did not disclose their medical history in detail (if they are on blood thinners)
- Dry Socket (Post-operative Osteitis): if the patient does not follow instructions carefully and a clot does not correctly form over the socket, severe pain can be experienced.
How to prevent dental emergencies?
Preventing dental emergencies can be done by sticking to the following guidelines:
- As you may have noticed, quite a few of the emergencies are associated with badly decayed teeth. You play a critical role in preventing decay by practicing good oral hygiene at home. This includes brushing at least twice per day for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, it would be best if you were flossing (at least once per day) and using alcohol-free mouthwash so that you can remove plaque and prevent cavities.
- Chewing xylitol gum after meals and ensuring that you do not have a high sugar diet can also help prevent cavities. This means cutting down on processed foods and snacks, soda, acidic beverages, and juices.
- Attending the dentist regularly (every six months) for your examination and cleanings allows the dentist to carefully assess the state of your oral health and catch anything before it becomes a more extensive (more complex and more expensive) problem to fix. Think about it; a cavity saw early is just a simple filling. A cavity left neglected can become much more significant and require more complex treatment (such as root canal therapy, crowns, etc.) or even become the source of infection.
- Completing the treatment plan outlined by your dentist to ensure that your oral health will be in top shape.
- Always fully disclose your medical history and any medication you may be talking to your dentist.
- Always follow postoperative instructions after an extraction.
- Extract wisdom teeth to prevent any complications later.
- Present to the dentist as soon as a traumatic incident occurs. If a tooth is knocked out, then store it in saliva or milk until you can make it to the dentist, or if it is an adult tooth, place it back in the socket while being careful not to touch the root.
Here at Bell Road Dentistry, Dr. Nielsen and the team are committed to partnering with you to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent a dental emergency's pain and trauma. Contact us today and start taking care of your teeth!