Keep smil­ing this sum­mer

Central Leader - - HEALTH& WELL-BEING -

It starts as a friendly game of back­yard cricket on a sum­mer evening and ends with you on your hands and knees look­ing for a tooth and try­ing to stop your mouth from bleed­ing. Yup, you’ve been hit in the face by a cricket ball and, as a re­sult, bit­ten by a full-scale sum­mer dental emer­gency. What do you do next? Any dental emer­gency means calling a den­tist as soon as pos­si­ble. If you have a reg­u­lar den­tist, they should have in­for­ma­tion about af­ter hours and emer­gency dental care on their clinic an­swer phone.

If you don’t have a den­tist, the Yel­low Pages (un­der den­tists) lists af­ter-hours and emer­gency den­tists and, in this day and age, you can al­ways Google ‘emer­gency den­tists’ and get a list of sug­ges­tions.

It’s a good idea to keep your den­tist’s phone num­ber in a safe place with other im­por­tant con­tact num­bers and to in­clude in a house­hold first aid kit use­ful items for deal­ing with dental emer­gen­cies. These in­clude a small con­tainer, with a lid, for putting a tooth that’s been knocked out in, gauze and a clean hand­ker­chief.

How do you know if it’s a dental emer­gency?

In a case like the one de­scribed above, it’s ob­vi­ous. But a bleed­ing mouth, swelling in the mouth or face, se­vere pain, an oral or fa­cial in­jury, swollen and/or bulging gums, and the un­ex­pected loss of a tooth are all signs that you need to con­tact a den­tist sooner rather than later.

ACC may cover dental in­juries caused in ac­ci­dents, sports or be­cause of med­i­cal/ dental treat­ment.

The Ac­ci­dent Com­pen­sa­tion Cor­po­ra­tion doesn’t cover dental claims if the dam­age to your teeth (or den­tures) was caused by nor­mal wear and tear or your den­tures were dam­aged when you weren’t wear­ing them.

Treat­ment must be car­ried out by a reg­is­tered den­tist who can help you fill out an ACC claim form. Like med­i­cal treat­ments cov­ered by ACC, the den­tist will treat you on your first visit and charge you part of their nor­mal fee while ACC pays the rest of the cost.

If you need fur­ther treat­ment from a spe­cial­ist, ACC must ap­prove this treat­ment as nec­es­sary and ap­pro­pri­ate first. ACC states: ‘‘Your den­tist will dis­cuss your treat­ment with you and can show you the ACC Sched­ule of Dental Treat­ment Costs Con­tri­bu­tions. You need to en­sure you are fully in­formed of what your fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is be­fore un­der­go­ing any treat­ment.’’ What if it’s a child? Even if the in­jury doesn’t seem se­vere, it’s im­por­tant to get a den­tist’s opin­ion and fill in a claim form be­cause chil­dren may need fur­ther treat­ment in later years.

Pre­vent­ing dental emer­gen­cies

The most ef­fec­tive ways to avoid dental emer­gen­cies at any time of year is to take care of your teeth and gums.

The New Zea­land Dental As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends eat­ing a healthy and well bal­anced diet, go­ing for reg­u­lar dental check-ups be­cause a den­tist can spot early and deal with prob­lems be­fore they turn into ma­jor is­sues, brush­ing teeth twice daily (es­pe­cially be­fore bed­time) us­ing a flu­o­ride tooth­paste and floss­ing once a day.

If you are go­ing on hol­i­day and won’t be able to get to a den­tist, it’s ad­vis­able to have a check-up be­fore you leave. This way, your den­tist can deter­mine whether there are any prob­lems likely to erupt while you’re away. Wear­ing a mouth-guard if you’re tak­ing part in sports and risky ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties is also ad­vis­able be­cause they help to pre­vent teeth from be­ing chipped, knocked out or bro­ken.

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