DENTAL EMERGENCY: WHAT TO DO
Emergencies are mishaps that happen suddenly, at the least expected time. Most times, they can be quite severe and will require urgent medical attention. Dental emergencies are very serious situations that call for urgent medical care.
It can be alarming, especially when it is not easy to book an emergency appointment with a dentist, or even find a dentist who will be available to treat emergencies at the last minute without prior appointment. Another issue is knowing the kind of dental problem you might have that will qualify as an emergency.
In some cases, the emergency might not be yours; it could be your child’s. Before we proceed on what to do during an emergency, let’s try to understand what constitutes a dental emergency.
What is a dental emergency?
Dental emergencies are teeth related problems that call for immediate services of a dentist.
There are quite a number of situations that require emergency dental treatment. They can be classified into two broad parts. The first part is physical damage to the teeth, which can be visible. The second is a problem that is not visible and usually manifests as an underlying pain. Examples of the second part are abscess or tooth decay.
Examples of some teeth problems that can also require emergency dental care include;
- Crack or fracture of the tooth
- Loss of tooth
- Accident that causes damage to the mouth or teeth
- Loose tooth
- Severe tooth pain caused by heavy impact, even if no signs of physical
- damage are seen
- Serious infection or abscess
- Severe pain or swelling or even bleeding that starts soon after there has
- been a dental treatment or implant
- Injury to the mouth, tongue or cheeks, even if the teeth are not affected.
The severity of the dental issue and any other factor such as the possibility of pain will require you to do these;
- Pay an emergency visit to the dentist
- Book an appointment to see a dentist preferably that day or the next or as soon as possible
- Continue with a routine appointment so the problem can be completely fixed.
There are some less severe issues that you can have that can be alarming to you, one of it being toothache or chip in a tooth. These situations may seem quite serious, but you might not be treated with urgency as an emergency patient would.
Although toothache can be quite painful and is an early sign of a dental cavity, you should get treatment as soon as possible. Chipped tooth, on the other hand, can be painless. However, early treatment is important, so that it doesn’t affect other parts of the tooth.
What should you during a dental emergency in the UK?
Dental emergencies come as a surprise and can cause fear. However, the last thing you should do is panic. Your dental issue may be one that will require you to visit a hospital. Once you notice one or more of these problems, do not hesitate to visit an NHS dentist in your local A&E department immediately.
- Acute pain that is not relieved by painkillers
- Accident trauma to the face or mouth.
- Non-stop bleeding
If there is a case where a tooth has been completely removed from its socket, you must get to an emergency dentist near you as soon as possible.
You can try to place the tooth in its socket if you are not in severe pain; if it doesn’t work, place the tooth in a glass of milk till you get medical help. The sooner you see a dentist after your teeth have been pulled out, the higher the chance of it being re-installed successfully.
If however, you are not in pain, or you didn’t lose a tooth, or there is probably a less severe case, or if you are not even sure if you require dental emergency, you can book an appointment with an NHS dentist.
The phone number is 111
They can provide you with the best advice for your dental issue. They will also give you information on how to locate dental emergency clinics and NHS emergency dentists that are near you.
Finding an emergency dentist
In the case of a dental emergency during working hours, getting a dentist near you is quite easy and less tasking as compared to certain times. Several dentists have workable schedules for patients with short notice dental issues.
Out-of-hours dental appointments
It can be horrifying if you find yourself in the middle of a dental emergency during inconvenient periods, like holidays, weekends or even at night. Locating a dentist during these periods can be quite hard. However, there are a few ways of contacting a dentist near you;
- Finding an emergency dentist number
Contacting your local dentist should be your utmost priority in the case of an emergency in order to help you get the contact of an out-of-hours dentist.
If this doesn’t work, or your usual dental clinic is unavailable, call the NHS 111, for help and advice or any other private dentist around you.
- Book an emergency appointment with a dentist online
If you wouldn’t want to go through the stress of calling for an emergency, or perhaps the pain you are suffering prevents you from speaking, you can visit the website; toothpick.com to locate an available dentist near you.
Relieving dental pain at home
Getting dental attention from a dentist in the case of an emergency might pend for hours or even linger to days in some cases. What can you do to relieve the pain while you wait?
There are so many ways by which you can relieve dental pain. A simple tablet of ibuprofen or paracetamol can help. You should not take aspirin because they cause blood thinning and make bleeding worse.
You can equally relieve tooth pain using natural remedies. The easiest method is mixing salt in a glass of hot water and rinsing your mouth with it, as much as possible.
Lemons and limes are also helpful for temporarily easing the pain. The citric acid in these fruits kills bacteria. All that is required of you is cut a slice, bite into it slightly to release the juice and rub into the affected area.
You can also make a paste using crushed garlic and salt and applying on the painful area directly. Or you can chew fresh ginger.
Bear in mind that these are meant to temporarily relieve the pain until you see a doctor.
Cost of emergency treatment
In the case of an emergency, this might be the last thing on your mind as all you care about is dental attention to relieve the pain; you have to understand that there will be charges for emergency treatment.
NHS dentists will not charge you for treatment to stop bleeding. However, the cost is dependent on the nature of the problem. This means higher cost for more severe problems, but you wouldn’t be charged furthermore if you require further treatment through multiple visits.
Private dentists will charge much higher than NHS. It could be a fixed price or according to the treatment given.
Insurance for a dental emergency
It is a welcome idea to get insured for dental care and emergency. Be sure to check the details, and see if it covers your visit to any dentist or if your choice is restricted.
If you don’t already have dental insurance coverage, you might want to consider taking a health insurance policy that covers dental emergencies with favourable terms.
To find out more about health insurance that covers dental care too, visit the website “Activequote” for free advice from different insurers.
Emergency dental care for children
Childhood is a period where most accidents happen. It is usually when they play, or when they are just being kids. A broken tooth or mouth injury is not uncommon in children.
This means an immediate visit to the dentist is needed in the case of such. Sometimes it might be a toothache, which they can hide from you until you notice or until they can’t bear the pain anymore.
In any case, if your child requires urgent dental care, you can do the following;
- Call your dentist and follow their instructions.
- Call the NHS 111 and locate an emergency dentist near you.
- Go immediately to the Accidents and Emergency unit in case of serious injury – mostly head injury.
- If the tooth has been removed or broken, place in a cup of milk until you get to a dentist.
You can also give pain relief drugs like paracetamol and ibuprofen at the appropriate dose for their age, while you wait for treatment.
No need to bother about the cost of the implication of the medical care given to your ward at NHS as it children in the UK have access to free child dental care.
Avoiding dental emergencies
Preventing dental emergencies is very important, especially in children. Although it is equally important to avoid issues and conditions that can lead to dental emergencies.
There are several ways by which you can avoid dental emergencies. They are;
Engaging in regular checkups. This helps to identify problems (if any) at the early stage and get treatment before it becomes extreme
Wear mouthguards during sports or any physical activity to prevent injury
Refrain from eating cold/ice or any other hard food that can damage the teeth
Pay close attention to minor discomfort in the tooth such as toothache, and do not ignore signs that can indicate an impending disease.
Seek treatment as soon as possible.
Preparing for emergencies
In case of emergencies, it pays to be prepared beforehand. You can do this by having a list of contacts of dentists in case of emergencies.
This can be achieved by searching for local dentists around you using the internet, find out when they are open, and if possible if they work during weekends or around the clock (accidents can sometimes happen at night).
It is also very important to keep a dental first aid kit to help treat injury and alleviate pain while you wait for medical care. It should contain the basics such as; paracetamol, mouthwash, small container (for putting removed teeth), cotton wool and sugar-free gum. These items should be replaced as soon as they expire and also be checked regularly.
Even though we all pray not to ever be in a dental emergency, being informed about what to do in case of any is very important as we can’t tell them when they will come in handy.