If you have suffered an accident or injury, it’s not always easy to try and clear your head of panic and think about what the best course of action is; most people would be forgiven for thinking that a trip to the nearest A&E is the only option is such a situation, but this might not be the ideal solution for everyone. Although doctors and nurses would undoubtedly do their best to help in the event of an accident, they are not always trained or equipped to deal with a dental emergency, they can’t provide specialist treatments like extractions or root canal fillings. If you suffer an injury to your face that has also damaged your teeth, it’s likely that your wounds can be treated at the hospital, but your other problems will have to be seen by a dental professional.
One thing that can be hugely beneficial in this kind of circumstance is to keep the contact details of a twenty-four hour emergency dentist handy, so that you won’t be scrambling around for them whilst panicking and in pain. The Pearl Dental Clinic operates an emergency surgery every day of the year, offering advice and assistance to registered patients and people who walk in off the street with a complaint. Dental emergencies can happen anytime, day or night, and the sooner you can get access to treatment, the better your chances are of a full recovery – knowing what sort of problem is a medical emergency and what kind is a dental one could mean the difference between sitting in A&E for hours unnecessarily and getting successful treatment within hours of an accident.
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Should I go to the dental clinic or the hospital?
The nature of your problem should dictate the decisions you make, for example, if you have suffered head trauma or there is heavy bleeding, you should go right to the hospital without thinking about the dentist – your overall health is more important than the appearance of your teeth. However, as mentioned above, it’s not always that simple; sometimes dental injuries can be very painful and they could be miss-interpreted as life-threatening, when they may not be. The first thing you should try to do in the event of an injury is stay calm; taking deep breaths and clearing your head is the best way to make an informed decision. Let’s take a look at some of the typical scenarios that require dental treatment, as well as some conditions which should be assessed by a doctor;
Go to the emergency clinic if you have…
A knocked-out tooth
This is perhaps the most obvious symptom of dental trauma, and if there are no other immediate health problems, then you should call the emergency dentist at the first opportunity. Treatment for a knocked-out tooth has to be carried out within an hour of the accident occurring, otherwise the tooth won’t be able to reattach, and other restorative methods will have to be employed. However, it’s important to remember that knocked-out or twisted teeth will often come with more serious injuries, so don’t overlook head trauma or jaw damage in favour of fixing your smile.
A broken or cracked tooth
A dental surgeon is required to rebuild a tooth that has been damaged in this way; nurses and doctors won’t be equipped to deal with such a problem – and they probably have more pressing situations to see to, if you aren’t in need of urgent medical attention. The dentist will be able to repair surface damage and place crowns to protect any broken tooth fragments; they can also help with more extensive procedures that may be necessary, such as root canals or fillings.
Most abscesses are not immediately life-threatening, so you don’t need to go to the hospital to have them treated, however, you should get them seen to as soon as you can, before the infection spreads and becomes more aggressive. The dentist will drain the abscess and they may also prescribe antibiotics to fight the harmful bacteria in your system.
Go to the hospital if you have…
Although your dentist wouldn’t leave you to bleed heavily in the waiting room, they certainly won’t be qualified to help you with serious facial lacerations; such injuries have to be treated by a doctor. Wounds like this need to be stitched and carefully cleaned on a regular basis, to make sure infection doesn’t set in. It’s also important that your overall condition is monitored in the days following your injury, which is not something the dentist will be able to provide.
A fractured jaw
Unless you are a doctor, you probably won’t be able to diagnose a fractured jaw, as the problem will only exhibit itself as pain or discomfort in the jaw, ears, and head – an x-ray is needed to determine the extent of the damage. Muscular and skeletal injuries can be difficult to work with, and a dentist does not have the equipment to properly treat such afflictions, particularly if some type of surgery is required.
A dislocated jaw
Jaw conditions like this can often be on-going, and they need to be treated by a specialist oral surgeon. In an emergency situation, a doctor is more likely to be able to help you than a dentist, as the teeth are not generally affected by problems with the jaw muscles.
Large, painful swellings are not something the dentist can help you with once they have reached a critical stage – although they can be useful with after care and regular check-ups regarding your condition. Without treatment, abscesses can start to cause problems with other areas of the body, such as breathing and organ function, and they constitute a serious risk to your health if you notice referred symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or high fever. Time is really a factor when the infection has spread to the rest of the body, so get to a doctor as quickly as possible once you start to feel unwell, a dentist