When anything out of the ordinary happens to our teeth it can be cause for panic. Our smile is often the first thing people notice and when there has been a disruption to our smile we want it fixed ASAP. On the flip side, people can also find themselves prolonging dental treatment that is urgent due to a number of reasons. Namely fear of the dentist, time restrictions or financial restraints.
However, knowing the difference between a dental emergency and a dental issue that can be fixed in due course is essential to good dental literacy.
Any dental problem that needs treatment to alleviate severe pain, stop uncontrolled bleeding or save a tooth is considered an emergency. Also in the realm of dental emergencies is any tooth related swelling of the face or neck and should be treated immediately to avoid obstruction of the airway or dissemination of the infection.
Dental emergencies can occur at any time but the most common reasons for a dental emergency is either from trauma, usually to the soft tissue, bone or the dentition. Or an undiagnosed/untreated infected tooth in which the body can no longer control the infection and it begins to cause severe pain or spread further than the oral cavity.
It is important to differentiate a dental emergency from an aesthetic emergency. An aesthetic emergency may not result in pain, bleeding or swelling, however if you find yourself deeply unhappy with the look of your teeth from a chip, fracture or grinding then you may still wish to book an appointment with your dentist sooner rather than later.
If you are ever unsure about what dental care you should be receiving do not hesitate and wait, always err on the side of caution and call your local dentist and they may be able to triage you over the phone and answer any concerns you may have.