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Emergency Dental Care: Are You Ready for a Dental Emergency?

Bonus Material: Managing Toothache at Home

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Dental emergencies are never convenient, are they?

Maybe you’ve just bitten into some healthy granary bread, and you’ve heard an ominous crack, broken a tooth and are now in agony.

Or maybe an old filling that’s been fine for years has suddenly come loose the night before you’re off on a foreign trip.

Or perhaps you’re on holiday in Cornwall and are suddenly experiencing excruciating toothache.

At that moment you know you need to get it seen to, but right then never seems like a good time to try to get that urgent appointment, particularly if your own dentist is hundreds of miles away!

These things seem to happen out of nowhere, and you can wonder for a split second how on earth you’re going to manage. It's true. Teeth problems can make us feel very vulnerable.

But here’s some reassurance.

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency out of normal office hours, in the evening or at the weekend, most dental practices in Cornwall are set up to deal with your dental emergency.

Give them a call, whatever the problem, and they will arrange an emergency dental appointment for you, or advise you on how best to manage your situation if the emergency isn’t urgent.

If you’re in pain and it’s a true dental emergency, it’s okay. You are going to be able to find the help you need.

Download our help guide on maintaining toothache at home until you can see a dentist!

The most common dental emergencies

If you ever find yourself with a tooth knocked clean out, or you’re next to someone else who has lost a tooth suddenly, remember, time is of the essence!

Get the patient and the lost tooth to a dentist as soon as possible, and the chances are that the otherwise healthy tooth can be replaced in the mouth and be saved!

It’s important to act straight away.

Get someone else to call the dentist if you can, so that you can take the necessary steps to try to save the tooth right there and then.

Try not to touch the root of the tooth, rinse the tooth very gently with clean water, being careful not to lose any tissue still attached to it and place the tooth safely in a small container of milk.

(Interestingly, milk really is best for this!) And then, get the tooth and the patient to the dentist as soon as possible.

What other situations call for emergency dental treatment?

Well, if you’re experiencing any kind of pain, discomfort or swelling relating to your teeth and gums that can’t be temporarily managed with painkillers, or if you’ve had an injury or trauma to the mouth that’s concerning you, it’s worth contacting a dentist.

If there’s a lot of bleeding, loss of teeth, or extensive damage, you should give us a call!

Alternatively, you could contact the emergency department in the local hospital, and they’ll be able to advise you, or you can call NHS Direct on 111, this is a good number to phone to get information at any time, especially if you haven’t been able to contact your own dentist.

What isn't a dental emergency?

Stay calm, because we all know how easy it is to lose perspective when there’s an unexpected problem with our teeth.

Don’t make it worse by panicking, especially since it’s not always as drastic as it seems.

Situations that aren’t really considered emergencies include things like - when you have a slightly broken or chipped tooth, a dislodged crown, or any other situation where there’s no immediate pain, little blood loss, or it's something you can treat by taking an ordinary painkiller and waiting for a normal appointment in office hours.

  • If you have a temporary crown that’s come loose arrange to go and see your dentist during normal working hours.
  • If you start to experience general hot and cold sensitivity well beyond what’s normal for you, that could be a warning sign, so you should talk to someone at your dental practice.
  • If it hurts to bite on a tooth, that’s another good reason to get in touch. You never know if an abscess might be the underlying cause, and if so, that will need looking at urgently before it gets more serious.

Minimise the risk of a crisis with your teeth

There are lots of ways to minimise the risk of a dental emergency.

If you’re involved in a physical activity where injuries to the mouth are possible, wear a well-fitted mouth guard.

Off for a holiday or planning to be out of the country for a while? Have a dental check-up a few weeks before you go.

Have you been struggling with a potential issue for a while, hoping it will go away?

Mention it to your dentist to be on the safe side, while it’s not desperately urgent. You’ll have peace of mind, and the benefit of preventative care.

If you’ve read this far, the chances are you’re facing a dental issue right now.

If not, you can prepare yourself in advance for unwelcome problems with your oral health just by being informed.

Don’t forget to download: Managing Your Toothache At Home – Keep this handy guide on your desktop computer or mobile phone just in case you ever have to deal with a nasty toothache at the most inappropriate time!

Remember that we do offer emergency services for those who need them. You're not alone.

p.s Please share this article with your friends and family 😊


Mark Durnall

Dr Mark Durnall has a special interest focused on full mouth rehabilitation. He has extensive knowledge on occlusion and restorative dentistry with a focus on implantology. He places and restores around 250 implants per year, making him one of the most experienced implantologists in the country. He has lectured nationally on implantology, enabling other clinicians to provide implants to their patients. He is highly experienced in the treatment of peri-implantitis and complex implant rehabilitation surgery. He is also a member of ITI and British Association of Cosmetic Dentists (BACD), British Dental Association (BDA).