Action plan for dental emergencies
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Some dental problems require the urgent and immediate attention of a dental professional.
SA Dental Service uses a validated screening assessment to triage dental emergencies.
A facial swelling can be very serious, even life-threatening, and must be assessed by a dental professional straight away.
A tooth abscess is a bacterial infection. It is usually caused by tooth decay, but can also happen if a tooth is knocked or broken.
In both cases, damage to the nerve (pulp) inside the tooth can cause the nerve to die and lead to an infection.
Abscesses can also result from a bacterial infection of difficult to clean gum pockets (periodontitis or pericoronitis).
If the abscess is not treated by a dental professional, the infection can spread to the cheek, face and jaw.
Pain relief medication and/or antibiotics may temporarily reduce symptoms but will
not remove the cause of the problem.
Seek dental advice as soon as possible after any dental injury.
Sports accidents, falls, assault or eating hard foods can result in traumatic injury of teeth, jaw or surrounding soft tissues.
If the person has been unconscious seek medical advice first.
If an adult tooth has been knocked out:
In the case of a facial swelling after hours, go straight to a GP or local hospital emergency department.