How Is A Dental Emergency Defined And How Can You Prevent One?

When it comes to our general health, in the majority of cases, we know what constitutes an emergency that deems a visit to a health professional ASAP. However, in the case of our teeth, it can be a little more challenging to identify what counts as an emergency. Below, we outline scenarios where emergency attention is required, along with the steps you can take to avoid one in the first place.

Your gums are bleeding significantly

Whilst the presence of blood isn’t a good sign when you brush (indicating signs of gum disease), a little bit of blood doesn’t require urgent attention. However, if you’re showing signs of significant bleeding or inflammation around your gums, you should get in touch with us straight away in order to avoid the possibility of extraction.

A swollen jaw

Sudden swelling in the jaw area is always a reason to contact us immediately, however if the swelling is impairing your breathing, you should contact the NHS number 111 straight away. A common cause of swelling in the jaw area is a salivary gland stone blocking the salivary gland, causing intense pain in many cases. In this instance, you will need emergency treatment and adopting good oral hygiene habits to avoid a dry mouth and the build up of bacteria will keep the issue at bay.

Dental abscess

Caused by untreated cavities and severe gum disease, dental abscesses are an infection that need seeing to right away. It’s not uncommon to experience a fever and a foul taste in your mouth, in addition to pain around the area. Contact us straight away to have this treated and to prevent the likelihood of the infection spreading to other part of your body such as your neck and head.

Damage to braces

Broken and damaged braces are viewed as a dental emergency, as any damage to your brace can impact on your progress. Contact us and we can arrange to have this sorted for you at the dental lab.

Some examples of issues that DON’T constitute a dental emergency:

  • Minor toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mildly bleeding gums
  • Chipped or broken tooth
  • Loose crown or veneers
  • Mouth ulcers that you’ve had for less than 10 days

Now that you know how to spot a dental emergency, it’s important to be aware of how to prevent them in the first place. Here are some of the sure-fire tips you can implement, to make sure you don’t find yourself undergoing serious and complex treatment in the future.

How to avoid dental emergencies

There are simple steps you can implement in your day-to-day life, that will help lessen your chances of needing urgent dental care. Take a look at a few ways you can do this.

Replace your brush regularly

A worn toothbrush will do little to protect your teeth from bacteria build up and decay. Remember to replace your brush every 2 -3 months, in order to get the best out of it. Here at Cliftonville Dental, we recommend electric toothbrushes, which will signal when you’re brushing too vigorously and thanks to built-in sensors, you will know when it’s time to replace the head.

Stay on top of your home routine

Astonishingly, a mere 1 in 8 Brits brushed twice a day during the first lockdown of 2019. This statistic is a worry and could contribute to millions developing tooth decay, cavities and gum disease that could have otherwise been avoided. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day (you should prioritise before bedtime) is paramount – you cannot hope to maintain good oral and dental health and hygiene without it. For advice on good brushing technique, take a look at this video from Health Education England.

Say goodbye to the sugar

It’s no secret that sugar is no friend to teeth. As delicious as sugary foods are to enjoy, they increase the acidity in the mouth which goes on to gradually damage your tooth enamel. Unfortunately this persistent damage will result in a cavity and the need for treatment, so make sure you maintain your natural teeth for as long as possible. Try cutting down on the amount of sugar you eat and keep a bottle of water at hand for sipping on, to wash away the acids that linger in your mouth.

If you spot a cracked tooth, make an appointment right away

If you’ve sustained a crack to your tooth through an injury or you’ve noticed a change to a tooth’s surface, you should make an appointment to have it checked. Ignoring small cracks could result in the tooth being lost, when it might have otherwise been saved with early intervention.

Don’t ignore changes to your smile

As the pandemic continues to affect livelihoods across the U.K (and indeed the world), it’s easy to ignore any changes to your teeth and gums. However, during this January-March lockdown, dental practices have been allowed to remain open for routine appointments and indeed to treat patients. Should you notice any changes in your oral and dental health, don’t delay in booking in for a check-up. When it comes to your teeth and gums, preventative care and early intervention are paramount in avoiding tooth loss, so don’t be afraid to reach out for treatment.

The moral of the story is, a dental emergency isn’t necessarily something that comes on overnight, it can be gradually growing plaque and tartar, a symptomless cavity or a minor knock to the teeth that’s progressed under the radar. Invest in your dental health and hygiene by attending routine appointments to avoid such issues, and keep your natural teeth for as long as possible.

We are currently open for routine appointments and a variety of treatments, excluding cosmetic dentistry. Please contact our friendly team to book your appointment today.

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