Do You Need Emergency Dental Care, Or Can It Wait?

dental emergency

Sometimes, accidents and emergencies happen, and it can be difficult to always know the right thing to do in those situations. For many health emergencies, it’s fairly easy to determine when immediate care is needed, however, for a dental emergency, you might not know if you should seek a general dentist or something more immediate. Here are a few common dental emergencies that typically require faster care, so that you’re prepared should an accident happen.

Knocked-Out Teeth

If you’ve had a tooth knocked out, schedule an emergency dental care appointment with your dentist right away. The sooner you’re able to get in to see your local dentist, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to save the tooth. In the meantime, only handle the tooth by the crown and not by the roots, and place the tooth in a small container of milk to help preserve it. If you do lose the tooth, you’ll need a replacement. Up to fifteen million people in the U.S. have crown and bridge replacements for missing teeth.

Chipped, Cracked, Or Broken Teeth

If the chip in your tooth is relatively minor and is not causing any pain, it likely isn’t a dental emergency. Just make sure that you are careful to not worsen the chip in the time between now and your next general dentistry appointment. However, if the cracked or broken tooth is causing pain or discomfort, you’ll want to schedule an emergency trip to your dentist. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relievers might be able to help manage the pain of a fractured tooth. Your dentist will need to perform an x-ray to determine the severity of the damage and if the tooth can be saved or if the tissue itself has been damaged.

What Isn’t An Emergency

Typically, a minor chip in a tooth doesn’t quite count as a dental emergency. Likewise, if you’re having a problem with a previous dental implant, such as a crown, it likely will be able to wait until your next scheduled dental check-up. Remember this advice, and you might be able to save yourself an extra trip to the dentist and plenty of stress in the future.

Here’s a quick re-cap is you do have a dental emergency:

  1. Assess the situation: Determine the severity of the dental emergency. Is it causing severe pain, bleeding, or is there a risk of permanent damage?
  2. Control bleeding: If there’s bleeding, use clean gauze or a clean cloth to apply pressure to the area for about 10-15 minutes until the bleeding stops.
  3. Save any knocked-out teeth: If a tooth has been knocked out, handle it carefully by the crown (the top part) and try to place it back into its socket if possible. If not, place it in a container of milk or saliva to keep it moist. Time is crucial, so seek dental care immediately.
  4. Manage pain: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help alleviate pain temporarily. Avoid placing aspirin directly on the gums or teeth, as it may cause burns.
  5. Address swelling: If there’s swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area. This can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  6. Contact our dentist office: Contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. Describe the situation to them so they can provide guidance and arrange for urgent care if necessary.
  7. Follow instructions: Follow any instructions given by our dental professional. We may advise you to come in immediately or provide temporary measures until you can receive treatment.
  8. Prevent future emergencies: Once the immediate issue is resolved, discuss preventive measures with your dentist to reduce the risk of future dental emergencies, such as wearing a mouthguard during sports activities or maintaining good oral hygiene habits.

Remember, prompt action can often make a significant difference in the outcome of a dental emergency, so don’t hesitate to seek our help.