Dental emergencies and traumatic injuries can be distressing and worrisome. Dental emergencies can happen to anyone; from young children to even older adults. They can happen as a consequence of falls, sports injuries, road traffic accidents or even a decaying tooth. It is important to be able to recognise and identify a dental emergency and to know what can or should be done.
Types of dental emergencies requiring immediate attention:
Dental injuries sustained during trauma
- Fractured or broken jaws
- Lips / tongue /inner cheeks / gums deep cuts or lacerations
- Loosened / dislodged / fractured teeth
Severe swelling / pain of dental origins (eg. toothache / dislocated jaw)
Uncontrolled bleeding from the oral cavity
What should you do during a dental emergency?
Traumatic injuries with dental involvement:
Severe Injuries (eg. road traffic accident / industrial or workplace accidents) sustained should be seen by the hospital’s accident and emergency (A&E) department immediately. Patients should be also seen immediately by the hospital’s A&E department for localised traumatic injuries (eg. accidental falls / sports’ injury) of the oral region (eg. lips / tongue / inner cheeks / gums / teeth) should the injury occur outside of normal operating hours.
Injuries that involve teeth:
For tooth fracture, try to locate the fractured fragment (if possible) and place the fragment in salt water / saline. Consult your dentist as soon as possible.
A tooth completely knocked out (avulsion) during trauma has the best chance of being saved if it is replanted back immediately or soon after the injury. Teeth that have been replanted within 30 minutes from the time of injury have a better chance of being saved 1. An avulsed deciduous (baby) tooth should never be replanted back.
Severe swelling / pain of dental causes (eg. toothache / dislocated jaw):
Swelling / pain may be managed with appropriate analgesics (painkillers) and antibiotics. Applying a cold compress around the affect area can also help to reduce the swelling. If the swelling / pain causes breathing difficulties, seek medical attention immediately.
Uncontrolled / excessive bleeding from the mouth:
Attempt to reduce bleeding by applying firm and direct pressure over the bleeding site. If bleeding is severe and uncontrolled, seek medical attention immediately.
When a ‘dental emergency’ can wait…
Not all toothaches require immediate treatment. Most toothaches can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers and can be seen the next day during normal operating hours. Painkillers (eg. aspirin) should never be placed against the gums of the offending tooth as it may cause gum tissues to be burnt.
Please kindly check with your insurer if you can claim for your emergency dental bill.
For insurance claims, we will assist you and prepare the relevant documents for your submission.
Direct billing to insurer is subjected to approval.
Article written by Dr Barnabas Loh
, Dental Surgeon, RafflesDental