Ever heard of Finagle's Law when it comes to dental emergencies?
Dental365 Emergency & Regular Dentistry exists for a great deal by the grace of Finagle's law. Finagle's law is usually explained as "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong - at the worst possible moment." As we all know, it is a naked truth that your dental emergency often happens when most clinics are closed.
Your dentist should be the first person you call if you have a dental emergency, of course. Despite the high level of dental care in the Netherlands, it is far from easy to get an immediate appointment when an urgent dental emergency occurs at night or during the weekend. Unfortunately, this applies when you have your own dentist too.
If you don't have a dentist or you can't reach your own, search in google for "emergency dentist" or in Dutch "spoed tandarts". In every major city in the Netherlands, there are 24/7 dental emergency clinics that are easily accessible to expats or tourists. Always keep in mind that with some dental emergencies, seeing a dentist within 30 minutes or less can mean the difference between saving or losing your tooth.
The following tips can help you deal with an urgent dental emergency until you can get to your dentist:
What to do when you have a knocked-out tooth
A knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency that requires urgent attention. If you strictly follow these emergency steps after the tooth has been knocked out, the chances are very good that the tooth can be reinserted and preserved by a dentist:
- Pick up the tooth by the top (crown) of the tooth. Never touch the root of the tooth.
- Rinse the tooth off very gently to ensure that it’s clean. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any tissue attached to it.
- If possible, place the tooth back into the socket. Hold it gently in place while trying to bite down.
- If you can’t place the tooth back in the socket, put the tooth in a small container or in a cup of milk. Note that the latter is preferable.
Call the emergency dentist immediately, since getting to the dentist quickly with your tooth, in addition to following the steps above, is critical if you want to save it. The longer you wait to re-implant the tooth in its socket, the less chance your tooth can be saved.
What to do when your tooth is loose
If you have a tooth that is loose or out of alignment, you should call for an emergency appointment right away. In the meantime, you can try to put the tooth back in its original position using your finger using very light pressure. Do not try and force it. You can bite down to keep the tooth from moving. Your dentist may want to splint the tooth to the teeth on each side to keep it stabilised.
What to do when your tooth is chipped
If a tooth is chipped and you have no pain, this is usually not a dental emergency and you can wait until you go to the dentist the next day. However, it is important to be careful when chewing so that there is no more chipping. Your dentist might just smooth the chip out, or add composite filling material to repair the tooth.
What to do when your tooth is cracked or fractured
A cracked or broken tooth is a serious problem that represents a dental emergency. Broken or cracked teeth usually suggest that damage has occurred both on the inside of the tooth and on the outside. Serious fractures can be so extreme that the tooth is irreparable. If you have a broken tooth or molar, call the emergency dentist immediately for an emergency appointment the same day and take the following steps:
- Clean your mouth out by gently rinsing thoroughly with warm water.
- If the fracture is caused by facial trauma, apply a cold compress to the area to minimise any swelling.
- Take acetaminophen (not aspirin) according to the packaging directions to alleviate pain. Never apply a painkiller to the gum because it can burn the gum tissue.
An X-ray will be needed in order for your dentist to properly diagnose the condition of your tooth. If the soft tissue inside of the tooth (the tooth pulp) is damaged, your tooth may need a root canal. If the pulp is not damaged, the tooth might only need a crown. If the tooth cannot be saved, your dentist will inform you of the various alternatives for replacing missing teeth, such as implants and bridges.
What to do in the case of an infection or abscess
Any dental problem requiring immediate treatment to save a tooth, stop ongoing tissue bleeding or alleviate severe pain is considered a dental emergency. A serious infection or abscess in the mouth can be life-threatening and must be treated immediately. Your dentist may perform the first stage of a root canal or will refer you to an endodontist (root canal specialist) to open the tooth and deflate the abscess. Never take aspirin or ibuprofen, these are anticoagulants (anticlotting) that can cause excessive bleeding.
Dental365.nl is a network of 24/7 emergency dental clinics located in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Dordrecht and Gouda. Our clinics are very easily accessible to expats and tourists. You don’t have to be an existing patient; everyone in need of emergency dental care is welcome. Dental365 Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht also offer regular dentistry.