What is Considered a Dental Emergency?
Most of the time, dental needs can wait a few days, but sometimes they absolutely cannot. So how do you know whether you need to seek emergency dental care? First, if you’re unsure whether or not you’re experiencing an emergency, please call us. It’s the only way to know for sure if you should come in immediately or if you can simply take an over-the-counter pain reliever and see us tomorrow. For example, if you’ve chipped a front tooth, but most of the tooth is still intact, it can wait. But if you’ve knocked the whole tooth out, root and all, then you have no time to spare.
Excessive bleeding or severe pain or swelling is considered a dental emergency. In some cases, these could be signs of a life-threatening infection that needs immediate attention and treatment.
Call us if you:
- Have a severe toothache.
- Knocked out a tooth.
- Have badly broken a tooth, especially if there’s bleeding in the area.
- Have any swelling and/or a “pimple” on your gums.
- Have any pain or discomfort anywhere in your mouth.
Dental Emergencies: What To Do
There’s no way to predict a dental emergency, but knowing a little bit about the most common scenarios can help you be prepared in case you find yourself dealing with one of these unwanted conditions.
Read these practical tips about some of the most common dental emergencies:
How to deal with a toothache
Toothaches can occur for a variety of different reasons. The only way to know the cause for sure is to see the dentist. But if you need relief in the meantime, try an over-the-counter pain relief medication, following the instructions on the packaging, along with a cold compress to the area. Toothaches can be caused by anything from sinus pressure to cavities to an acute infection such as an abscess. Call us and we’ll get you in quickly to assess the cause and relieve your pain.
What to do if your tooth is knocked out
This is one emergency where your immediate action will decide whether or not your tooth can be saved. If the entire tooth comes out, hold it by the crown (not the root) and if it’s clean, gently insert it back into the socket, then get to the dentist immediately. If the tooth falls on the ground, you’ll need to carefully rinse the tooth in water first, then try to insert it back into its socket. If you’re unable to reinsert your tooth, put it in a container with milk and get to your dentist within 30 minutes. The best chance of saving your natural tooth is if it gets treated within the hour.
What to do if you've fractured or broken a tooth
If your tooth is broken or cracked and you’re not experiencing pain, then call the office to schedule a visit soon. If you’re in pain, rinse your mouth with warm salt water (one cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon salt dissolved). Call the office so we can see you as soon as possible to relieve your pain and stabilize the injured area. You don’t need to save any broken pieces of the tooth; they can’t be re-attached.
How to know if you have a tooth abscess
An abscess is when pus and bacteria accumulate around or near a tooth, usually at the tip of the tooth root. The build-up creates pressure under the gums and can be quite painful (although sometimes there’s no pain at all associated with an abcess). The infection will often find an outlet on the side of the gums and appear as a pimple. This should not be left untreated. An abscess is an infection. It’s possible for the infection to spread to other parts of the body, and in rare cases, it can be life-threatening. Call us if you see a pimple on your gums or have pain or swelling. We’ll want to see you right away.
Contact us today
to schedule an initial consultation & exam.
Your consultation will include an examination of everything from your teeth, gums and soft tissues to the shape and condition of your bite. Generally, we want to see how your whole mouth looks and functions. Before we plan your treatment we want to know everything about the health and aesthetic of your smile, and, most importantly, what you want to achieve so we can help you get there.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are dental first aid tips found above however, the best first step is always to give us a call! We will give you guidance over the phone to help alleviate your pain, save your tooth and get you here as quickly as possible.
Always follow your doctors’ advice and read the directions on the bottle before taking any pain medication. If it is safe for you, you may take a pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil to take the edge off. This is not a permanent or perfect solution. Dental pain is often nerve related and the only substantial relief will come from treatment a doctor can provide. If you do take something, write down what you took, how much you took, and when you took it and let us know when you come in.
Yes. If you need emergency dental care and go to the Emergency Room (ER), the ER will treat you and then bill your health insurance. The ER is not likely to be able to treat a dental problem unless it is a health emergency. They may also use temporary measures to relieve pain until you are able to see a dentist.
If left untreated, a broken tooth can collect bacteria, risking infection or abscess. A broken tooth also risks nerve damage and may lead to needing a root canal.
If the abscess ruptures, the pain may decrease significantly but you still need dental treatment. If the abscess doesn’t drain, the infection may spread to your jaw and to other areas of your head and neck. You might even develop sepsis, a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout your body.