- What Is a Dental Emergency?
- What to Do in a Dental Emergency
- Dentist vs. Emergency Room
- Preventing Dental Emergencies
What Is a Dental Emergency?
A dental emergency is any oral problem that requires immediate attention from a professional. This urgent dental care is typically necessary for reducing pain, saving a tooth, stopping bleeding, or avoiding future complications. To help determine if you have a dental emergency or not, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you experiencing severe tooth, gum, or jaw pain?
- Do you have bleeding in the mouth that won’t seem to stop?
- Have any of your teeth come loose?
- Did a tooth get knocked out?
- Is there abnormal swelling in your gums or mouth area?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you should contact your dentist to see if they can schedule an urgent appointment to address your concerns.
What to Do if You Have a Dental Emergency
Should you be faced with a dental emergency, there are a certain steps you can take to temporarily alleviate your symptoms and/or prevent the problem from getting worse. Read below for some of the most common dental emergencies and how to respond to them.
- Intense Tooth or Gum Pain: Swish your mouth with warm water; then apply an ice pack or cold compress to the outside of the mouth.
- Bleeding That Won’t Subside: Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater; then apply pressure to the area with a moist gauze.
- Chipped or Broken Tooth: Swish your mouth with warm saltwater. If there is bleeding, apply a moist gauze to the area with light pressure. If there is swelling or pain, use a cold compress on the outside of the mouth.
- Knocked-Out Tooth: Pick the tooth up by the crown and gently rinse off the root if needed. If you can, put the tooth back into its socket and hold it in place. Or, put the tooth in a cup of milk or in an empty container. Bring the tooth with you to the dentist as soon as possible.
Where to Go for a Dental Emergency: Dentist vs. ER
If your dental emergency is life-threatening, you should go to the emergency room immediately. For other problems that are pressing but can be treated by your dentist, it is typically best to avoid an unnecessary trip to the ER and, instead, call your dentist to schedule an urgent appointment. Many dentists leave room in their schedule to fit in last-minute appointments for those with timely needs.
Even if it isn’t your dentist’s normal office hours, though, you should either call their emergency number, if you have been provided with one, or call the normal office number to either speak with an available staff member or to follow potential answering machine instructions. Assuming you are not experiencing a life-threatening emergency, it is typically better to call your dentist first to see if they can address your problem.
How to Prevent Dental Emergencies
Although dental emergencies cannot be completely avoided, there are measures you can take to minimize your risk of experiencing one. Aside from practicing good oral hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist for routine exams and cleanings, taking the following precautions can help protect your teeth and gums from getting injured:
- Wear an athletic mouthguard when playing sports
- Avoid chewing on hard foods, like ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy
- Do not use your teeth as a tool to cut or open items
Should you ever find yourself in a dental emergency, please call our office immediately. We do our best to schedule our patients with urgent needs at the earliest possible time, often in the same day, to address their pressing dental needs.