There are a multitude of problems that can affect the teeth and mouth. Among these, there are problems that do not require immediate treatment and can wait. For example, teeth whitening or teeth polishing is an optional treatment and can attended to as per the convenience of the patient and the dental clinic. But there are some conditions that have to be treated quickly. These are dental emergencies that are life threatening and need immediate attention of the dentist or dental surgeons.
Any dental problem that requires immediate attention and treatment because they are potentially life threating is called a dental emergency.
Dental emergencies include the following:
- Deep dental caries
- Dental trauma
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Swelling in or out on the face which may block airway passage of the patient
- Faulty restoration causing deep discomfort
- Snipping and adjustment of orthodontic patients wire or adjusting dental appliances jutting out and harming inner cheeks or jaws
- Replacement of temporary fillings on abscesses
Deep dental caries
This is a bacterial disease in which the enamel (the outer covering of the tooth) and dentine (the innermost pulpy part of the tooth) are infected. It needs immediate treatment due to the pain it causes because of the nature of infection and abscess in the affected area. The patient needs immediate treatment consisting of antibiotics and drainage of abscess. If the pain continues despite the antibiotics the patient may need to have emergency tooth removal.
Dental trauma is described as the sudden injury to the facial area and the mouth where teeth may be broken, chipped or lost. Children and adults may find themselves in accidents where teeth are broken partially or sometimes even completely uprooted. When the tooth is uprooted or knocked out there is a chance of saving the tooth. If fast emergency treatment can be given to patient at a dental hospital, it may be possible to reinsert the tooth and preserve it.
When fractures of teeth expose the pulp, it needs immediate attention because it is very painful and open to infection.
The immediate therapy will be x rays to determine the damage and recommended treatment. It may lead to swelling on the inside and outside the face.
Bleeding which does not stop after a few seconds or after several minutes is dangerous for life. It is considered dental emergency. There are many reasons for dental bleeding. The most commonly occurring uncontrolled bleeding is during accidents where teeth are involved. When a nerve carrying blood gets hit, the bleeding is profuse and emergency steps need to be taken involving sutures. Uncontrolled bleeding also occurs when the patient is already suffers from lifestyle diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
Swelling inside or outside the mouth
Swelling can occur from a variety of reasons. Swelling is one of the ways by which we come to know of some kind of irregularity in the body. When there is a toothache because of caries a little swelling occurs. Even during dental treatment swelling occurs which is normal and it subsides after the treatment is over. When swelling in the mouth occurs because the patient may be suffering from other diseases than teeth problems, then it becomes an emergency and the dentist will decide which specialist should be contacted.
Faulty restoration causing discomfort
During dental treatment for teeth restoration, sometimes the devices used for the same may not fit properly it hurts the patient. This problem needs an immediate fix it or it may hurt other parts of the mouth. In some instances, the restored tooth comes loose, and may cause choking, which puts the patient’s life in danger. It is then considered an emergency dental problem needing attention quickly.
Orthopedic adjustments for appliances
There are instances when patients need emergency appointments for adjustments to be done on their dental appliances. For braces, the wire running through braces needs to be kept at a certain tension to be able to pull the teeth back. If for whatever reason the wire comes loose, it may cut through the tissues in the mouth becoming a health hazard. In some cases, the patient may notice a bridge which does not fit snugly on the lower or upper set of teeth. Or a crown may come loose and keep hurting the inner tissues causing them to bleed. These and similar situations need emergency handling by dental professionals.
Replacement of temporary fillings and tooth abscess
Sometimes, the after the cleaning of dental caries, the tooth needs filling. Before putting in the final filling, the dentist puts a temporary filling so that remaining work on the tooth can be carried out before final filling is inserted. Sometimes, these fillings may get washed out from the teeth and expose the dental tissues of the affected tooth. To prevent further complications the dentist has to treat this immediately.
Removing and treating abscess
Because of tooth decay, an infection sets in, and leads to build-up of pus in the area. This is a life-threatening condition because build-up of pus in the body causes fever and the teeth become sensitive to cold and hot sensations. The toothache will be persistent and would not go away even with painkillers. The lymph nodes in the neck become sore and lead to overall weakness in the body. This is an emergency situation and if not treated immediately it may spread to other areas in the mouth. The abscess causes swelling in the mouth and if go untreated, the selling can be seen outside on the face also.
Most of the conditions requiring immediate dental consultation are potentially life-threatening emergencies and needs to be treated as quickly as possible.