Dental Emergencies: What to Know
Dental emergencies come in all shapes, sizes, and severities. What might be a true emergency for one person could vary tremendously for someone else. Ultimately if there is severe pain, swelling, or embarrassment, it’s important to see a dentist immediately.
What is Considered a Dental Emergency?
If you are experiencing pain or embarrassment because of a dental issue that prevents you from eating, going to work, or going to school, then you need to see an emergency dentist.
Some of the most common dental emergencies include scenarios like:
Dental abscesses usually present themselves as small pimple-like fistulas on the gums just adjacent to tooth roots. They result from the nerve inside of the tooth becoming infected or after a traumatic injury. Once a tooth has abscessed, endodontic therapy is the only means of permanent pain relief.
Broken, Chipped, or Knocked-Out Teeth
A broken tooth may or may not hurt, but it will definitely impact your ability to eat or talk in public. Try to locate your tooth fragment and immediately store it in a sealed container, making sure it’s completely covered with milk, saline, contact solution, or if none of those are available, tap water with a pinch of salt added. Bring your tooth to the dentist’s office immediately, as the first 1-2 hours are vital concerning reattachment.
Tooth pain typically comes and goes. It can be due to anything from an abscess or cavity to a sinus infection or grinding your teeth. But if the pain is so severe that you’re limiting your everyday activities, you need to see an emergency dentist as early as reasonably possible.
Traumatic injuries can damage the nerves inside teeth, causing the tooth to die over time. If you are hit in the mouth during an accident, sporting activity, or something else, it’s important to have your teeth evaluated by your dentist at your earliest opportunity.
Broken Fillings, Crowns, or Dentures
Older restorations like fillings or crowns may occasionally break off of teeth if there is a recurring cavity around them or if the tooth is breaking down over time. In most cases, these restorations cannot be placed back onto the tooth, although crowns can occasionally be re-cemented. Do not attempt to bond the restoration back yourself, as this can trap bacteria against your tooth, leading to additional complications.
Broken or cracked dentures are another common emergency. Your dentist may be able to repair the prosthesis or will need to make a new one. Do not attempt to repair the “plate”, as this can lead to permanent damage or harm your oral tissues.
Dentist Office vs. Emergency Room
Most dental emergencies need to be addressed by a dental professional. Unfortunately, hospital emergency rooms are just not equipped to manage issues like broken, knocked out teeth, or dental abscesses. At the very least, they can provide interim pain relief but not address the source of the condition, allowing the issue to compound tremendously.
Dentists have the equipment, resources, and training to provide permanent treatment for issues like toothaches and broken teeth. When you seek out care as soon as possible, the issue can be prevented from compounding into a more advanced, expensive situation to treat.
However, there are scenarios where it is best to go to an emergency room. Such as severe facial trauma where a broken jaw is suspected, bleeding cannot be controlled, there are multiple facial lacerations, or there is severe swelling in the face, posing a risk to your airway.
If You’re Out of Town
As fate might have it, many dental emergencies occur when you’re out of town or when your dentist’s office is closed. The best thing to do is call your current dentist’s office and ask for advice about the situation. They will typically have someone available to return emergency phone calls and guide you through which steps to take next.
In the meantime, apply a cool compress to the side of your face and take Motrin (ibuprofen) to manage swelling and discomfort.
If your tooth is broken or knocked out, you will need to locate an emergency dentist near you within the next hour or two for immediate treatment.
Waiting Could Pose More Problems
Even if you’re not in pain or are purposely avoiding using that tooth, there is a tremendous chance of accidentally biting down on it, breaking it further, or experiencing painful flare-ups like an abscess. It is always better both physically and financially to address your tooth as early as possible.
Tooth pain can be excruciating. And unfortunately, dental issues cannot repair themselves.
In most cases, earlier treatments for dental problems limit the spread of the infection or damage that has already occurred. Early intervention will also keep repair costs to a minimum, since issues are treated while they are smaller and more contained.
Dental emergencies can’t wait. Don’t risk trying to power your way through them. Contact Grove City Center for Dentistry today for fast relief.