Ask the Dentist: It's really not a good idea to try to take your own teeth out at home

Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care in Belfast, hopes dentists are prioritised as essential workers soon so they can get back to helping people

It's understandable that, with dental practices closed due to the pandemic, people are desperate – but dentistry should be left to professionals
Lucy Stock

IT'S heartbreaking for patients who are having dental problems during this time. It's very disconcerting to read of people attempting to take their own teeth out at home.

It's understandable as to why this is happening but it's really not a good idea for anyone and especially for children. Not only will it be agonisingly sore to attempt to take a tooth out without anaesthetic, there are also the risks of introducing infection into your jaw, inhaling the tooth or it snapping off, making your situation worse.

Children need a lot of consideration when treating them and this is best left to the dentists so as not to give them a dental phobia.

A hot or cold compress, oil of cloves, salt mouthwashes and painkillers can help to alleviate mild dental pain. It's important not to leave a tooth infection that causes facial swelling without treatment, as sepsis can set in.

If your dentist prescribed you antibiotics but they aren't working to reduce the pain or swelling, please phone your dentist back and they can refer you to one of the dental hubs to be seen.

Symptoms of sepsis include: feeling nauseous or vomiting, diarrhoea, a temperature above 38C (101F) or below 36C (96.8ºF), a fast heart rate – higher than 90 beats per minute – or taking more than 20 breaths per minute.

If sepsis is left, it can cause organ failure. When this happens you may see discoloured patches on your skin, changes in your mood, peeing less, difficulty in breathing, general weakness and body chills due to the fall in body temperature.

I have also seen other instruments come on the market for cleaning the tartar from your teeth which look very much like the ones used in dental practice. While these look inviting, care should be taken when dealing with teeth so as not to cause any harm to them.

I have been working for 20 years and consider myself, let's say, more than proficient at cleaning teeth and I still opt to have my teeth cleaned with my hygienist because I simply can't do it properly on myself.

Let's hope that dental teams get prioritised with the essential workers so we can get back to work as soon as possible.

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