Moderate to severe impact of force on the jaw/ oral cavity can significantly affect the integrity of teeth, gums and surrounding soft tissue and hard tissue. Ignoring a serious dental injury does not only cause significant pain and discomfort but can also lead to side effects and complications in the future.
According to a report published in the peer reviewed medical journal Dental Traumatology (1), investigators reported that 66% of all the dental emergency visits are due to direct impact of force on the oral cavity or trauma. Most popular causes are TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), tooth extraction, and bleeding.
Most frequent Dental emergencies that require emergent attention are:
- Toothache; most common causes are trauma, caries, infection, impacted food etc.
- Chipped/ broken tooth reported usually after trauma/ accidents; however, if your teeth are weak and or diseased, chipping may occur even with normal mastication
- Knocked-out teeth can be saved if reviewed by a dentist within 1 hour (make sure to avoid scrubbing any vital tissue from the root) and place the tooth in a cup of milk
- Partially dislodged/ extruded teeth are a leading cause of pain, discomfort and facial swelling.
- Impaction of food particles or similar agents between teeth leads to irritation, swelling, bleeding, inflammation and if not treated, infection.
- Loss of filling; see a dentist as early as possible to avoid considerable pain and discomfort
- Lost Crown: After root canal, the tooth is only supported and protected by the crown; however, if your crown came off; see a dentist as early as possible to avoid chipping of the affected tooth
- Broken wires/ sockets of braces: Immediate consultation is very important as a broken wire may poke/ harm your gums, lips, inner aspect of cheeks or other soft tissues.
- Dental abscess or any acute infection/ cut/ abrasion/ laceration of oral cavity should be immediately addressed since the oral cavity is exposed to a variety of microbes that are capable of affecting the integrity of abraded tissue by increasing the risk of infection.
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction that is marked by moderate pain involving the oral cavity, face, neck and shoulder region in addition to limited mouth opening and locked-jaw that may interfere with oral intake of food and water.
Dental emergencies are unseen, unwanted and unpreventable. According to a latest study (2) investigators reported that although dental emergency visits are uncommon; more than 81% of patients require antibiotic or opioid pain-killers at discharge. In most cases, effective management reduces the discomfort and the vast majority of patients are discharged home.
The best course of action is to see an emergency dentist instead of waiting for an appointment with your regular dentist.