Umhlanga Dental
Emergencies
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031 561 5520

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084 651 3581

Please try to call
before 2pm to ensure an emergency appointment
on the same day.
We recommend you get in touch with the practice earlier than 2pm to ensure an emergency appointment on the same day.

Dental emergencies can happen at any time and you are more than likely to want immediate treatment to solve the issue. For this reason we provide emergency appointments every day. A dental emergency situation can be brought on for a number of different reasons, including:

A Knocked out Tooth
If your tooth is knocked out, softly lift it up by its crown and wash it carefully. There can be gum tissue remaining so leave it in place, and gently place the tooth inside the mouth against the cheek. If this isn't possible, put milk into a container and put the tooth inside it until you get to the dentist. The sooner you attend the dental clinic the more chance you have to save your tooth, so call as soon as possible for an appointment.
If your child's tooth is knocked out, click here to see further info.

A Broken Tooth
If a section of your tooth has been damaged or knocked out, please contact us right away for an emergency check-up. Cleaning out your mouth using warm water is helpful and you can use a cold compress for any swelling.

Bitten your lip or tongue badly
Tongue laceration bleeding can be decreased by moving the tongue into a forward position and using a cloth to put strain on the wounded area. If you are in pain and losing blood, visit your closest emergency room because you may need stitches. If you have not managed to halt the bleeding with a compress or cloth, then this is the best course of action.

Worried your jaw is broken
Pain following an injury or accident involving your jaw means you may need to attend your local hospital. Apply a cold cloth to the area to ease swelling.

You have toothache
There are several reasons for toothache, but it is usually due to dental infection. If the toothache has become worse over time, use warm water to rinse your mouth and then gently floss to remove any bits of food that could cause infection. If this does not work, get in touch with the dentist to receive treatment and prevent the spread of infection.
Although painkillers can sometimes lessen the pain of sore teeth and gums, do not let them rest on your gums as this can cause the gum tissue to burn.

 
Dental Injuries
There can be many accidents to the mouth where teeth are evulsed (knocked out), broken (fractured) or forced out of their original position (extruded). Cheeks, gums and lips can also
suffer cuts. The occurrence of oral injuries can be very painful and in such cases you should visit your dentist as quickly as possible.

Teeth that are Evulsed
If a tooth has been knocked out you need to contact us for a dental appointment and see if you can recover the tooth. If you find the tooth then you should gently rinse it, without scrubbing too hard, to get rid of dirt. Put the sanitised tooth in between your gum and cheek. Don't try to put the tooth back in the opening as this could lead to more damage. Visit the dental practice as soon as you are able to. If you can get there in around half an hour after the incident, it is feasible to restore the tooth. If there is no way to store the tooth in the injured person's mouth (for example, young child) gently cover the tooth in a dirt-free cloth and put the cloth into milk.

Extruded Teeth
In cases where the tooth is somehow knocked or moved out of position (outward or inward) it needs to be realigned to its usual position with gentle finger pressure. You should not pressure the tooth into the opening. Keep the tooth in position with a damp tissue. As with evulsed teeth it is important to go to the dentist within half an hour. The treatment of a fractured tooth will come down to how bad the injury is. Irrespective of the injury the treatment will be based on the dentist's guidance.

Small Fractures
Small fractures can easily be smoothed down by the dental practitioner with a small sandpaper disc or they may be left alone. The other alternative is to reinstate the tooth through a composite restoration process. Whatever treatment is applied you should look after your teeth for the next few days.

Moderate Fractures
Dentin, pulp and enamel are associated with moderate fractures. If the pulp is not damaged in a permanent fashion, the tooth could be fully repaired with a permanent crown. In cases where there is damage, additional action will be needed.

Serious Fractures
Severe fractures can result in a traumatised tooth and there is a limited possibility of mending. Injuries to the interior of the mouth comprise puncture wounds, lacerations and tears to the lips, tongue or cheek. The wound needs to be cleaned immediately and the person assisted to the treatment room for wound repair and suturing.


 
Further Information
 
Toothache
Question What are the symptoms of a toothache?
Answer The signs and symptoms of a toothache include: lingering sensitivity to cold (that persists even after the stimulus is gone), sensitivity to hot, spontaneous and constant throbbing pain, discomfort or pain when chewing or touching the tooth, swelling or tenderness around the area that hurts, and possibly fever as well.
toothache

Question What should I do if a severe toothache develops?
Answer Prescribed or over-the-counter pain medication (dosed for children according to weight and age) may temporarily quiet the symptoms. In case the toothache is originating from the gums, rinse with warm salt water and floss the teeth to remove any food or substance that may be stuck between the teeth or in the gum pocket around the tooth. Antibiotics may become necessary; however, it is recommended that you contact your dentist to help make that determination. Once seen by the dentist, an examination and x-rays should be performed to verify damage and to help determine the treatment. A comprehensive medical and dental history should also be taken. The decay and/or affected nerve tissue may be cleaned out and replaced with a sedative temporary dressing or permanent filling. If there is an abscess (pus filled swelling) it may need to be drained. And if the tooth is not restorable, an extraction may become indicated.

Question What should be done for a laceration (cut) inside the mouth?
Answer All lacerations (cuts) within the mouth must be cleaned well and checked for any foreign bodies. A tongue laceration usually requires stitches if the edges of the tissue do not line up cleanly. Any tears to the frenum (muscle attachments) will usually heal well, without any long-term complications. Use an icepack to minimize swelling, and give the appropriate pain medication if necessary.

Question What should I do if I have a swelling (abscess)?
Answer The first thing you should do is make an appointment with your dentist to evaluate what the cause of the swelling is and to determine if antibiotics are necessary. For minor swellings caused by gum irritations, hot salt water rinses may be indicated. Abscesses (swellings) are usually caused by untreated cavities, cracked teeth, failed root canals or extensive gum disease.
abscess

There are 3 basic types of abscesses: Gingival (gum) abscesses involve only the gum tissue. This is evident as a pus-filled swelling that may have originated from an inflamed periodontal pocket. The dentist will treat this by cleaning out the gum pocket and draining it. Hot rinses and antibiotics may also be needed.
A Traumatic gum abscess comes from a trauma (such as irritating the area with a toothbrush, or jabbing the gums with something sharp like a crust of bread, chip or bone). Traumatically induced abscesses usually heal on their own with the aid of warm salt water rinses.

Abscess (Cont.)
A tooth abscess
or root abscess involves pus enclosed in the tissues of the jaw bone at the tip of an infected tooth. Usually this abscess originates from a bacterial infection that has accumulated within the nerve area of the tooth. In some cases, a tooth abscess may perforate bone and start draining into the surrounding tissues creating local facial swelling. Sometimes the lymph glands in the neck will become swollen and tender in response to the infection. Treatment would be root canal and sometimes antibiotics if swelling is significant. If you should have any form of swelling, fever or pain, immediately contact your dentist.
abscess

Question What happens if I don’t treat a dental abscess?
Answer A dental abscess is an infection that should be taken very seriously and treated immediately. If the abscess is ignored, not only can it result in a large swelling, fever and intense pain, but it can have serious consequences, including:
• Tooth loss (due to loss of surrounding bone from the infection)
• Sinus Infection (when the infection from the upper back teeth spread into the neighboring sinuses)
• Bacterial Endocarditis (when the bacteria from the abscess spreads to the heart via the blood vessels)
• Brain Abscess (when the infection from the abscess reaches the brain through blood vessels)
• Osteomyelitis (which is a local or generalized infection of bone and bone marrow, usually caused by the bacteria from the abscess)
• Cellulitis (when treatment is delayed, the infection can spread through the tissues and cause facial swelling, fever and can eventually spread to the bone and the soft tissues of the floor of the mouth)
• Ludwig's angina (a very serious infection which affects the lower jaw and parts of the face. This infection can grow to block the airways, resulting in suffocation and possibly death)

Question What should I do if my child’s tooth gets displaced outward, inward or to the side (luxation), pushed up (intruded) or pushed down (extruded)?
Answer After assessing the injury, making sure your child is conscious and breathing well, contact your child’s dentist for an immediate evaluation. For toddlers, the most common type of tooth displacement is a luxation, because the bone around the baby teeth is very soft, and teeth can move more easily within the socket. When this happens, there is usually a lot of bleeding from the surrounding gums. During a fall, a child’s tooth is usually pushed inward, towards the palate. This is less damaging to the developing tooth bud because as the crown portion of the tooth moves inward, the roots are pushed away from the developing tooth.
The most damaging type of displacement is intrusion (when the tooth is pushed upward). The root of the baby tooth can be forced into the developing tooth bud, causing possible developmental issues and color changes within the developing adult tooth. If the baby tooth is pushed up less than 3mm, it has an excellent prognosis and chance of re-erupting on its own. Allow the baby tooth to spontaneously erupt over a 2 to 3 month period (as long as the developing adult tooth bud is not injured). If re-eruption does not begin within 2 months, the baby tooth will need to be removed. If the baby tooth is pushed up more than 6mm, the tooth is hopeless. If the baby tooth is displaced into the developing adult tooth, it should be extracted to prevent further damage to the adult tooth bud. It is very important to take an x-ray to see if the tooth is present, because a severely intruded tooth may be pushed all the way inside and appear to have been knocked out.

If an adult tooth gets displaced, gently try, if possible, to reposition the tooth back into the right place, hold it there, and seek immediate dental care. If a tooth gets displaced less than 5mm, there is a 50% chance that the nerve won’t be damaged. These teeth may reposition themselves, but may also require orthodontic repositioning. It is possible that there could be a fracture of the bone surrounding the tooth during these luxations. If the tooth is very loose, and can be moved more than 2mm, a flexible wire and composite splint may be placed for 7-10 days to help stabilize it.
Question What should I do if my child’s baby tooth gets knocked out (dental avulsion of a primary tooth)?
Answer The first thing you should do is contact us as soon as possible. The baby tooth should not be replanted because it may cause subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth. Usually this type of injury happens between 7-9 years of age, when the bone surrounding the tooth is softer and more resilient. This means there is less of a chance of a bone fracture around the tooth. Your dentist should then see your child to check and verify that everything else is fine.

Question What should I do if my child’s adult tooth gets knocked out (dental avulsion of a secondary tooth)?
Answer The first thing you should do is try to find the tooth and put it in a cup or baggie with your own saliva, milk or saline (to keep it hydrated) and bring it immediately to your dentist (Do Not Touch the root of the tooth, handle it by its crown). Time is of the essence. With each minute that passes the chance of reattachment diminishes. DO NOT SCRUB the tooth. If you do, it will wipe away its outer ligament and prevent its reattachment within your empty tooth socket. If you are in a place where dental care is not accessible, immediately start replacing the tooth back within the socket (slowly and carefully), and hold it there with gauze. If there is dirt on it you may gently rinse in cool water (no scrubbing or using soap) before replacing the tooth within the socket, otherwise just leave it alone. Remember, the faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth. Almost all replanted teeth will show some signs of root resorption and ankylosis (where the root fuses with the surrounding bone). It is possible that this may affect one’s bite later on.

Question What should be done if a jaw fracture or severe trauma to the head is sustained?
Answer If this should happen you must seek medical attention immediately. A severe head injury can be life-threatening, and facial fractures may block the air passage and affect breathing. Keep in mind that an emergency medical team will most likely reach you faster than you can get to the hospital. Facial fractures usually involve the lower jaw, but may also include the upper jaw, cheeks, eye sockets or nose. For children, their bones are still somewhat soft and the fractures are usually incomplete and will heal quickly with few complications. If you suspect the jaw may be fractured, stabilize the jaw with a necktie or towel around the head. Do not allow it to move. Apply cold compresses, and go to an oral surgeon or hospital emergency room immediately.

Question What precautions can I take to prevent dental injuries from occurring?
Answer The risk of dental injuries can be greatly reduced by doing the following: First, make sure that protective athletic gear, including a sports mouth guard, is worn to prevent severe injuries to the mouth.
Max MouthguardMax Mouthguard
Second, check to see that you and your child are properly secured in the car, using the appropriate car seat, booster or seatbelt. Third, be aware of your surroundings, and prevent unnecessary injuries at home by taking precautions and child-proofing the house for younger kids. And fourth, advise your children to avoid rough play and to not run fast in confined or slippery spaces. Note that many traumatic injuries occur from 18 to 40 months of age, because this is the time when your uncoordinated toddler is learning to walk and run.