While none of us like to ponder the possibility of emergencies arising in our lives, they happen to people like us every day of the year.
For starters, you may ask, what constitutes an emergency?
In the case of a dental emergency, there is a tried and true rule in determining this.
If it HURTS, it's an EMERGENCY.
That's not to say that at the first sign of pain you should be dialing 911 or even your dentist's office. However, if the pain is strong enough and / or it persists over twenty four hours, every consideration should be given to correcting it in a timely manner. In the case of one's mouth, pain can be an indication of anything from simple tooth decay to something more serious.
Problems with your teeth and gums can affect your overall health and well-being. As much as we take our teeth for granted, injuries involving teeth or gums must not be ignored. There are blood vessels and nerves resident within our mouths that can be damaged or infected, which if not quickly brought under control can lead to problems in other parts of your body, especially the neck and head. Not to be a doomsayer, and it is only in extreme cases, but certain problems of the mouth can eventually become very serious.
Following are some situations involving dental emergencies that could have an effect on you or your family.
Let us begin at the beginning, with one of the simplest ailments which has affected almost all of us from childhood, a toothache. If pain to a tooth comes on suddenly, or if the pain is severe, you should try to rinse your mouth using warm water and to very carefully floss the area to insure nothing has become stuck between your teeth and gums causing the problem. If the pain persists, this may turn into a dental emergency and you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
Should you encounter swelling, you must see your dentist immediately. Swelling is normally part of an infection that may spread and affect other parts of the anatomy as we discussed earlier. You may try rinsing with saltwater as a temporary pain reliever prior to seeing your dentist.
Pericoronitis is an extreme case of swelling normally associated with one's wisdom teeth not setting properly. This can result in problems of the jaw and should be considered an extreme dental emergency, attended to by your dentist as soon as possible.
Loose fillings or crowns area cause for an emergency. If either one comes off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If your tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue!
Last, but certainly not least, is an event where you may accidently bite down on you lip or tongue and experience excessive bleeding. This may require an immediate need for treatment and failure to stop the bleeding with a cold compress must result, without delay, in a trip to the nearest emergency room to remedy the situation.
Your personal dentist is always the best source for information about, and the treatment of, a dental emergency.
Regular checkups and good dental hygiene should at least reduce the possibility of a dental emergency, but should one occur, call your dentist.
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