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Facial swelling, tooth pain, fractured teeth; yes, we see and treat these emergencies on a regular basis at the dental office.
As health professionals we need to be able to treat any medical emergency that may occur within the dental office. These include: Syncope (fainting), anaphylaxis (an acute allergic reaction), acute asthma, angina (chest pain) which can lead to a myocardial infarction, hypotension and hypertension (low and high blood pressure), diabetic – hypo and hyperglycemia (low and high blood sugar) and an acute epileptic seizure.
In this series of blogs we will look at the medical emergencies listed above. In order to deal with them we often need to rely on certain key medications. These can be found in the office’s medical emergency kit. Each office is required to have one.
Inside of the emergency kit are essential drugs. Essential means that certain drugs are required to be in the kit. We will look at these drugs.
There are other drugs which may be found in the office which are not considered essential…these are called supplementary. We will discuss these as well.
Before doing any type of work on a patient, it is important that they provide us with a thorough medical history. This involves:
1) Any medical conditions they have.
2) Past surgeries.
3) Medications, vitamins and any herbal supplements taken.
4) Allergies to medications (i.e. penicillin, codeine) or materials (latex, nickel).
Depending on the above, alterations may need to be made to their dental treatment i.e. if a patient has a latex allergy, we would need to wear latex-free gloves. Please see the blog “Dentistry and Allergies – Part One –Latex Allergy” posted on October 14th, 2013. In addition the dentist needs to be trained in Basic Life Support (BLS) also known as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
When we treat any medical emergency we start by assessing the patient’s airway, breathing and circulation (ABC’S). Then oxygen is usually administered. Only after the ABC’s are addressed can the symptoms be assessed and an appropriate treatment be employed. This treatment may include certain essential or supplementary drugs found in the emergency kit mentioned above.
We will start the series by looking at the contents of the office emergency kit.
Until next time…yours in excellent dental health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad, Brampton Dentist