When Is It A Dental Emergency?
When you are faced with an emergency dental care situation the first person you should contact is your dentist.
Dentists are normally prepared for emergency procedures and allow time for them. If your dentist has an emergency after hours contact information posted, be sure to use it.
But what exactly is considered an emergency to a dentist? This may vary from office to office but generally, any kind of procedure that cannot be put off until the next business day is an emergency. Timing is everything and the quicker you can see a dentist, the better the outcome.
Dental Emergency Examples
Here are a few examples where urgent dental care will be required:
1. Tooth Knocked-Out
A knocked-out tooth may be able to be saved if immediate emergency dental care is received. However, you will have to do your part as well. Do not touch the root of the tooth and pick it up only by the crown. Rinse it off, do not scrub or rub it clean and place in a towel or washcloth.
If you can put the tooth back into the socket it came from, gently do so. Hold it in place as you bite down. This will keep it safe until you make it to the dentist. If you can’t put it back in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk. Get to your dentist immediately.
2. Loosened Teeth, Teeth Out of Alignment
A loose tooth still requires immediate attention so if you have this happen to you, contact your dentist and schedule an after hours dental emergency appointment. You can try to gently work the tooth back into place with your fingers and bite down to hold it in place.
When you get to the dentist office be prepared for a possible splinting procedure. This is where the loose or misaligned tooth will be splinted to adjacent teeth to hold it in place. A loose tooth is considered a dental emergency requiring attention as soon as possible.
3. Broken Teeth
A chipped, cracked or broken tooth can be a non-emergency or an emergency. Chipped teeth that do not hurt are not really considered an emergency. You can put off seeing your dentist for a few days but you will have to be careful eating to ensure you don’t cause more damage.
A cracked or broken tooth is a different matter. These usually point to damage inside the tooth as well. Schedule an emergency appointment and rinse your mouth with warm water. Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling if facial trauma was the cause of the fracture.
To reduce pain take Paracetamol as directed on the packaging. Do not take aspirin or apply a painkiller to the gum tissue. An x-ray will be needed so the dentist can properly diagnose.
4. Tissue Damage
Any kind of injury inside the mouth ranging from punctures and tears to lacerations of the lips, tongue, cheeks or mouth are considered dental emergencies. The best place for quick treatment of these injuries is the emergency department of your local hospital.
5. Other Dental Emergencies
Anything that requires treatment to save a tooth, halt tissue bleeding or eliminate severe pain in the mouth is a dental emergency. Severe infections or an abscess that can be life-threatening is also a dental emergency. These kinds of injuries require immediate attention.
Finding An Emergency Dentist Near Me
As stated above, most dentists do have after hours contact information available. In the case of an emergency, they can be reached to be informed of the situation and what has happened. If your dentist happens to not be available, a visit to the hospital ER would be your next choice.
Questions To Ask To Determine When Is It A Dental Emergency?
There is a checklist of questions you can go through if you are still not certain if you have an emergency situation that requires urgent dental care.
These questions include:
- Are you bleeding from the mouth?
- Are you experiencing severe pain?
- Are you suffering from a blow to the face or mouth?
- Are you experiencing any swelling in the face or mouth?
- Are you experiencing any knots, bulges or swelling on your gum tissue?
A yes answer to any of these questions means you have a dental emergency that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. If you are unable to transport yourself to the dentist office, have someone else take you there to ensure you get there safely.
Avoiding Dental Emergencies
Regular check ups with your dentist will ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy and strong as they can be. Fighting tooth decay will also require you to follow a regular brushing and flossing routine at home as well. Combined with dental visits, your teeth will grow strong.
If you are active in contact sports, one more way to protect yourself from an unplanned dental emergency is to wear proper mouth guards. Avoid eating hard foods to prevent chipping or breaking teeth. By taking these precautions it gives you a better chance of never being in the situation where you need to ask, “When is it a dental emergency?”
For more information on what we consider dental emergencies at Forster, contact us today. We will also share with you our after hours contact information should you ever find yourself needing urgent dental care after our office has closed for the day.