What constitutes a dental emergency?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental emergencies are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection, and include:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Cellulitis or a diffuse soft tissue bacterial infection with intra-oral or extra-oral swelling that potentially compromise the patient’s airway
  • Trauma involving facial bones, potentially compromising the patient’s airway

According the American Dental Association (ADA), urgent dental care focuses on the management of the conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments. These should be treated as minimally invasively as possible.

  • Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
  • Pericoronitis or third-molar pain
  • Surgical post-operative osteitis, dry socket dressing change
  • Abscess, or localized bacterial infection resulting in localized pain and swelling
  • Tooth fracture resulting in pain or causing soft tissue trauma
  • Dental trauma with avulsion/luxation
  • Dental treatment required prior to critical medical procedures
  • Final crown/bridge cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken, or causing gingival irritation
  • Biopsy of abnormal tissue
  • Extensive dental caries or defective restorations causing pain
  • Suture removal
  • Denture adjustment on radiation/oncology patients
  • Denture adjustment or repairs when function impeded
  • Replacing temporary filling on endo access openings in patients experiencing pain
  • Snipping or adjustment of an orthodontic wire or appliance piercing or ulcerating the oral mucosa

My child knocked their front tooth out, what do I do?

In dentistry, we call that an avulsed tooth. It is important to act quickly and carefully with an avulsed permanent tooth. Try to handle the tooth part and avoid touching the root part. If the tooth needs cleaning, clean the tooth with milk, then place it in a cup of milk to keep hydrated. If milk is not present, clean with minimal water and place the tooth in the patient’s mouth between cheek and gums on your way to the dental office. If it’s a young child or there are safety concerns and the patient cannot hold the tooth in their mouth, have the patient spit in a cup and place the tooth in the spit cup. The faster the tooth gets implanted, the better the success in saving the tooth.

If you can orient the tooth correctly and insert back in the socket after you’ve cleaned it, this is always best. It should slip right back in the socket, then bite down with a thin material like a tee shirt or hand towel to hold in place. If the tooth does not slip right back in, do not force it and store in a cup of milk. Get immediate dental treatment.  

Toothaches come in all forms and fashions. Toothaches can be caused from just about anything and sometimes it’s not even the tooth, it’s the gum tissue near the tooth that is problematic. Once we find the cause, we can treat the toothache.

Let our dentists know if there was any trauma to the tooth, something you ate that caused the pain, is it sensitive to hold or cold, does the hot or cold sensation last a while, does it hurt when you bite on the tooth, is it the top teeth or bottom teeth or both that hurt, have you had allergies symptoms recently, or any other pertinent information our dentists may need in diagnosing your dental toothache.

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