What should I do in a dental emergency?

It is important to understand what to do in case of a dental emergency. UC Dental prides itself on making time available for any patient in pain to be seen on the day of calling. There will however be times when we cannot see you immediately (public holidays, Sundays, middle of the night), and in these cases it is important you know what to do until help is available.

Knocked a tooth out?

Have you knocked your ADULT tooth out in some sort of accident? This is one situation where acting quickly and correctly can make a huge difference to the long term result. The best treatment involves getting the tooth returned to its original position as quickly as possible. Immediately call a dentist for an emergency appointment. If you can, see your dentist within an hour of when your tooth is knocked out for the best chance of the tooth surviving the trauma. Handle the tooth by the crown (the top), not by the root (the pointed part on the bottom). Touching the root of the tooth can damage cells that are necessary to reattach the tooth to the bone. Gently rinse the tooth in water (ideally Saline or salt water) to remove dirt. Do not scrub the tooth! If you think you can, push the tooth back into the hole it came out of, making sure it is level with where it was before. If this is not possible, place the clean tooth in your mouth between the cheek and gum to keep it moist. It is important not to let the tooth dry out. If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk or saline solution, available at chemists.

If a BABY TOOTH is knocked out, the tooth should not be replanted. The patient should be seen as soon as possible to make sure there are no remaining pieces of the tooth, though generally this is not an urgent appointment and could be made the following day without concern.

Swelling associated with a sore tooth?

Sometimes an infected tooth can lead to swelling of the soft tissues nearby to the tooth. If you notice any swelling at all, you should see your dentist immediately. Usually swelling tends to be localized to the area that the problem started, however in some more serious infections, swelling can spread quickly to other areas. Lower teeth can lead to swelling that affects your neck and airway, and this is considered a life threatening problem and needs to be treated without delay.

Likewise upper teeth can create swelling that if left untreated, can progress backwards towards the brain. Again this can become life threatening, and as such needs to be treated immediately. If this occurs, contact the emergency department of your local hospital, and they will provide medicine that will decrease the swelling quickly.

UC Dental takes these matters very seriously, and should we be open, we will make time available for you to be seen, so please do not hesitate to call us.

Why do I need a dental crown?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth, to cover the tooth and restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.

A dental crown may be needed in the following situations:

  • To protect a weak tooth (for instance, from decay) from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth
  • To restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down
  • To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left
  • To hold a dental bridge in place
  • To cover severely discoloured teeth
  • To cover a dental implant
  • To make a cosmetic modification

When should I bring my child to the dentist for their first visit?

First visits are mostly about getting kids used to the dentist’s chair and educating parents about how to care for baby’s teeth. We recommend they come in for an examination from 3 years of age. A ride in the chair and a count of your child’s teeth can make it a fun experience, which can help prevent a fear of the dentist later on in life.

Why do I need x-rays?

Dental X-rays help dentists visualize diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a simple oral exam. In addition, X-rays help the dentist find and treat dental problems early in their development, which can potentially save you money, unnecessary discomfort, and maybe even your life.

The frequency of getting X-rays of your teeth often depends on your medical and dental history and current condition. Some people may need X-rays as often as every six months; others with no recent dental or gum disease and who visit their dentist regularly may only require X-rays every couple of years. If you are a new patient, your dentist may take X-rays as part of the initial examination to establish a baseline record from which to compare changes that may occur over time.

In adults, dental X-rays can be used to:

  • Show areas of decay that may not be visible with an oral exam, especially small areas of decay between teeth
  • Identify decay occurring beneath an existing filling
  • Reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease
  • Reveal changes in the bone or in the root canal resulting from infection
  • Assist in the preparation of tooth implants, braces, dentures, or other dental procedures
  • Reveal an abscess (an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth)
  • Reveal other developmental abnormalities, such as cysts and some types of tumors

In children, dental X-rays are used to:

  • Watch for decay
  • Determine if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth
  • Determine if primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to come in properly
  • Check for the development of wisdom teeth and identify if the teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums)

How often do I need my teeth cleaned?

Cleaning your teeth every day at home, while important, is only part of a successful routine. Visiting your dentist twice a year will help ensure a healthy mouth. Your dentist will use professional tools to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria build-up that you are generally unable to efficiently clean yourself. Combining regular brushing and flossing with 6 monthly visits to the dentist will not only give you a more confident smile, but it will also help protect you from tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease.

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