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A few quick bits of advice on caring for your teeth at home

Child-Brushing-teeth

These are extraordinary times indeed, and almost everyone across the entire country has been affected by the current coronavirus crisis. Here at AP Smilecare, we’ve had to close our practice following recent guidance from NHS England and the Department of Health, and been instructed to prioritise urgent care only for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. However, we’re still committed to helping you care for your teeth, so we’ve collected a few bits of advice to help you deal with any particularly worrying situations until our practice opens again.

(A quick note before we dive in – if you’ve got any specific concerns or you’re worried about something, we’d always encourage you to contact the practice and talk to one of our experts directly. We’re open every weekday and answering the phones from 9:30am to 4:30pm, and for emergencies you can give us a call on our normal contact number – 01254 660 560.)

What counts as a dental emergency?

This is a particularly important question for us to address, especially in the current Covid-19 crisis. It’s vital that our patients know what sorts of conditions justify leaving the safety of their homes. At the moment, these include:

  • Persistent bleeding after an extraction. Some amount of bleeding is normal when a tooth comes out – about the same amount you’d see if you grazed your knee – but a bleeding is judged to be persistent if it doesn’t stop after 20 minutes of solid pressure with gauze or handkerchief.
  • Bleeding due to dental trauma
  • A tooth has been broken and is causing pain, or a tooth has fallen out
    Any significant toothache that prevents normal sleeping, eating, or has caused a fever or significant swelling

It’s vital to go to A&E immediately if there’s any facial swelling that seriously affects vision or breathing, or if it prevents the patient’s mouth from opening for more than the width of two fingers. Any trauma that causes loss of consciousness, double vision or vomiting constitutes another A&E priority.

What should you look for when choosing your dentist?

What doesn’t count as a dental emergency?

While there are lots of issues that might arise with your teeth, unfortunately not all of them count as dental emergencies, which means you might have to deal with them yourself for the time being.

Non-urgent incidents include:

  • Lost or loose crowns, bridges and veneers
  • Broken, rubbing loose dentures
  • Broken, loose or lost fillings
  • Chipped teeth (if it’s not causing you any pain)
  • Loose orthodontic wires
  • Bleeding gums (more detail on this is below)
  • Ulcers

Bleeding gums are usually due to gum disease, which isn’t pleasant but isn’t a dental emergency. Our advice is to ensure you’re brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, for at least two minutes each time. Similarly, ulcers aren’t nice to deal with, but they tend to heal themselves within about 7 to 10 days. We’d recommend warm salty mouthwash to take the edge off them until then. The same goes for painful wisdom teeth, which should be kept clean with a regular brushing routine. A soft diet and painkillers can also help to relieve pain.

What to do if you have a toothache

It’s worth remembering when you have a toothache that antibiotics aren’t always guaranteed to help, especially if your tooth is sensitive to heat or cold. Until our dental experts can tackle the decay though, happily there are some simple measures you can take at home, such as ensuring you’re cleaning regularly and often with fluoride toothpaste, and reducing your sugar intake accordingly.

If you find there’s a hole in your tooth though, or it’s cracked and now sensitive or sharp as a result, you can insert a temporary filling yourself using brands of products you can find at home. These include Refilit, Refil-It (both of which are slightly different brands), Tooth-Fil, and Dentemp.

You can also alleviate some of the pain by using desensitising toothpaste like Sensodyne Repair and Protect. An anaesthetic gel like Oragel can similarly help deal with the main and discomfort until you can see a qualified dentist.

Posted on: 20th Apr, 2020