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What to do when you need emergency dental work

Accidents can happen to anyone, at any time, and in any place and can cause serious damage to our teeth. Only around one in three dental injuries are sports-related, which proves you don’t need to have your head in a ruck to lose a tooth. Sometimes we receive a knock or bump to the face without thinking too much about it. And, when you consider three in 10 Australian adults have tooth decay, it’s not hard to see why simple bumps can turn into painful dental emergencies at any moment.

Dental emergencies don’t have to be as obvious as a chipped or broken tooth either. It can be as simple as a toothache that’s hiding the root issue. So, what do you do when you receive a knockout blow to the mouth?

What is considered a dental emergency?

The first thing to do is to consider your level of dental emergency as this will determine how quickly you should see your dentist. Symptoms of a possible dental emergency include:

  • Dental trauma or injury (such as a blow to the face)
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Swelling in the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth that doesn’t stop on its own
  • Difficulty opening the jaw or swallowing.

I have a dental emergency, what now?

Do find the knocked-out tooth

If your tooth has been knocked out or has fallen out of place, make sure you locate it immediately. You should take the knocked out tooth with you so your dentist can ensure that the entire tooth has been knocked out and not just part of it. In the case of children, take the tooth with you, even if you think it might be a baby tooth.

Don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue

Now that you’ve found the tooth, avoid wrapping it in tissue or paper towel. Although wrapping the knocked out or chipped tooth might seem like the best temporary solution on your way to the dentist, it can actually be doing more harm than good. Wrapping the tooth in any sort of paper towel can cause it to dry out. When teeth are dry, they’re more prone to cracks and chips. Instead, store it in milk or saliva. It’s also important to remember to only handle the tooth at the crown and never touch the roots to avoid injuring the tooth further.

Do try to put the tooth in place

Once you’ve found the tooth, rinse it under tap water or milk but don’t scrub it. Place the tooth back in position, making sure it’s facing the right way round. Once it’s in, gently bite down on a soft cloth or tissue or use your mouthguard to hold it in place. Keeping it in place can help prevent any further trauma to the injured tooth. If you can’t replant the tooth, don’t force it into place. Instead, transport it in milk or saliva.

Don’t assume anything

Just because you can’t see any damage to the tooth, doesn’t mean there isn’t any there. A knock to the tooth or mouth can cause cracks in the teeth or their roots that will not be visible to the naked eye. These will require an assessment by a dentist. If left unchecked, the damage caused by an injury can increase the risk of infection, tooth decay, and eventually, the loss of the tooth.

Call Gosford Family Dentist immediately

Ideally, you should see your dentist within 30 minutes of the knock or injury happening. The sooner the tooth is replaced, the greater the likelihood it will survive. Many dental practices or dental hospitals are open for emergencies and will make time to see you if you alert them to what’s happened.

Next time you receive a knockout blow, call Gosford Family Dentist’s emergency dental team. Let us know if you have a chip or break and we’ll see you as soon as possible to help soothe the pain and get your mouth back in smiling order.

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