Advice for our Woking patients regarding when to seek an emergency dental appointment.
What constitutes a dental emergency? It is a very good question and one that may be misunderstood to some degree. The word ‘emergency’ probably gets us thinking of flashing blue lights and a very serious situation indeed.
For patients who have very severe pain, such as that caused by a bad toothache or an abscess, it probably seems blindingly obvious that they need an emergency appointment. In other situations though, appointments may be delayed when really they should be treated as quickly as possible.
At the AJ Dental Group in Woking, we will of course, prioritise appointments for people who are suffering from a painful tooth, and we will also offer advice on how to stay as comfortable as possible until such a time that we can see you.
Given that being in pain constitutes a dental emergency, what other situations might also be classed in this way?
Chipped or fractured tooth
A tooth can chip or fracture for a number of reasons. You may have bitten down harder than you intended to and caused a small piece of tooth to break away. This may be negligible in size but it shouldn’t be ignored. Any tooth damaged in this way will probably have been weakened, and not getting it restored quickly could easily lead to further damage and the need for more extensive treatment to the tooth.
Where enamel has become compromised, it becomes easier for bacteria to enter the inner part of the tooth. When this happens, tooth decay, and possibly root canal infections may not be too far away. So whilst the degree of urgency may vary depending on the damage, please don’t wait too long before seeing us!
Knocked out tooth
It may be rare, but teeth can get knocked out, meaning that the root also comes away from the bone. Although this is obviously a fairly catastrophic injury, if you act quickly, it may be possible to put the tooth back and retain it rather than need an alternative such as dental implants.
You should pick up the tooth by the crown, not touching the root. Keep the tooth either in your cheek or in a small container of saliva, or where this is not possible, milk. You should then call us straight away, explaining what has happened and we will try to restore the tooth as quickly as possible. Please do not attempt to put it back yourself. Remember too, that the quicker you call us, the better the chance of saving the tooth.
We mentioned earlier that most of our Woking patients will call for an emergency appointment if they are in a lot of pain with a toothache. The fact is though, that any discomfort from a tooth needs to be checked out as soon as possible. Even if we lead a busy life and find getting the time to visit the dentist difficult, you shouldn’t ignore even relatively minor dental pain in the hope that it will be OK until your next scheduled appointment.
The reality is that if you are experiencing discomfort or pain from a tooth then there is something wrong and the tooth needs to be checked. Even a small amount of tooth decay that is causing just a little discomfort should be treated quickly. Leaving it will only lead to a larger cavity which may require more extensive treatment and may also prove to be much more painful if you leave it.
Missing crown or fillings
Although crowns and fillings are generally very secure and won’t come loose or become detached, it can happen. This is especially the case in an older filling or where the dental cement has started to lose its effectiveness. If this does happen, you will need to see a dentist as soon as you can. A tooth that has lost a filling will not only be exposed to bacteria and potentially further tooth decay, but is likely to be significantly weaker and may break if too much pressure is exerted.
The same applies with a dental crown. Both of these should be restored professionally and you shouldn’t attempt to re-attach your crown, for example, using a general adhesive. These are likely to contain ingredients that may cause further damage to the tooth. It may seem odd that anyone would try this type of DIY dentistry but it does happen unfortunately.
We will try to prioritise appointments according to the urgency of the treatment needed, so please make sure to clearly explain your situation as best as you can when you call our Woking practice for an appointment.
Both emergency and general dental appointments can be made by calling us on 01483 766355 (Parkside Practice) or 01932 352222 (Waterside Practice).