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What is a dental emergency and what should I do if I am experiencing a dental emergency?

If you have ever experienced a dental emergency, you will know that it can be a very harrowing experience. You may not know what to do or who to see for help. The purpose of this blog is to help you recognise what an emergency could include and to provide you with some tips of what to do if you find yourself in an emergency.

What is a dental emergency?

A dental emergency could include:

  • Tooth pain due to decay or an abscess;
  • Cracked tooth;
  • Knocked-out tooth;
  • Loose crown or filling.

How to manage your emergency?

For severe tooth pain, see your dentist as soon as you can. This could include spontaneous lingering pain, night-pain that wakes you up, significant pain on drinking hot or cold beverages, needing to take painkillers and/or pain on biting.

Until you can see your dentist for professional help:

  • Rinse your mouth with salty water;
  • Clean your tooth by flossing and brushing to remove food that may be stuck and contributing to your pain;
  • Take pain relief medication.

For a cracked tooth:

  • Locate the missing piece of your tooth and take it to your dentist;
  • See your dentist as soon as you can;
  • Apply a cold compress to your face to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.

A small chip may be okay as long as your tooth is not sharp on touch and you are not in pain.

For a knocked-out tooth:

  • Locate your missing tooth and push it back into its original position – avoid touching the root and rinse it gently with milk or saline water – until you see your dentist;
  • Try and remember the time that the tooth was knocked out before it was placed back into its position;
  • If you cannot place the tooth back in, keep the tooth in milk to preserve the tooth and head to the dentist as soon as possible;
  • Acting fast will increase your chance of saving this tooth!
  • If a baby tooth has been knocked out of its position or you are just unsure, do NOT place it back but head to the dentist as soon as you can for an assessment.

For a loose crown or filling:

  • Protect the crown/filling in a bag or container;
  • See your dentist as soon as you can even if you are not in pain.

If you are in a serious accident with skin lacerations or bone fractures and bleeding seriously, struggling to breath or cannot open your mouth because of a large swelling in your mouth you may need to head to the hospital to be seen immediately. Contact your dentist first if you need some direction about what to do. Any kind of dental emergency should be dealt with quickly and calmly, so make sure you get the right kind of help by seeing your dentist as soon as possible.

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