Dental Emergencies – Know How To Spot Them and How To Respond
Any dental issue can feel like an emergency. For example, any toothache can quickly become unbearable within a few minutes. However, wanting immediate care and needing immediate care are two different things. Therefore, it is essential to understand what is considered a dental emergency and how patients should handle the situation.
How To Know if It's a Dental Emergency
There are two kinds of dental emergencies. First, there are the kinds that need a dentist right away and require an emergency room visit. The best option to determine the need for care is to call the dentistâs office. However, many dentists keep time available to manage emergency dental issues.
If it is outside regular hours for the dentist, an answering service is often available. Calling the answering service will allow the caller to leave a message or question for the dentist. If the problem needs immediate attention, the dentist will often call back with instructions. In some cases, the answering service may provide the number of an emergency dental care center. Either way, they should give information on whether the issue is an actual emergency.
When Should I Go to the Emergency Room?
There are times when the dental emergency is so severe that it requires visiting the nearest hospital's emergency department. These issues are often ones where a person could be risking their lives if they put off getting needed care. Therefore, a medical professional should treat these dangerous situations at the nearest emergency room.
Severe trauma to the mouth is often a reason to go to the emergency room. Any damage that could block the airways or excessive bleeding of the mouth or gums is cause for concern, and a physician should see the patient.
Often, toothaches do not constitute an emergency room visit. However, if the toothache has lasted for several days, is severe, or has gotten worse, it might be a good idea to have a physician examine the tooth. Pain accompanied by swelling and fever could be a sign of an infection. A severe infection or abscess is an emergency. A dentist must treat it immediately to prevent spreading and severe complications.
What Isn't a Dental Emergency
Many situations may feel like an emergency but can wait until a regular appointment with a dentist is available. Avoiding getting urgent or emergency care when necessary can ensure the services are available for those who need the services and can reduce costs for the patient. Emergency services and after-hours dental appointments can be quite expensive.
Regular toothaches with no swelling or bleeding are not emergencies. Over-the-counter pain relievers can manage these types of issues, allowing the patient to wait until there is an available appointment. Likewise, mouth sores, bleeding gums, even chipped or cracked teeth are not necessarily emergencies.
The best way to tell if a dental problem is an emergency is if it is a problem that will get worse without immediate care, such as an infection. For any dental problem, contact the dentist and make an appointment as soon as possible. Making an appointment will resolve the issue and save the patient a lot of stress and money.
Common Dental Emergencies
There are a variety of dental issues that would constitute a dental emergency. These issues require getting in to see the dentist as soon as possible but not necessarily a visit to the emergency room. If one of these issues arises, the patient should contact their dentist to see if they have an opening or contact an after-hours facility for treatment.
Some common dental emergencies include unexplained pain, swelling, or bleeding. In addition, any exposed nerves can cause excruciating pain, and the dentist should address it immediately. A knocked-out tooth, missing filling, or broken crown are also common issues that should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible.
How to Avoid Potential Emergencies
As with anything, the best treatment for dental emergencies is preventing the emergencies from occurring in the first place. Proper oral hygiene is one of the best methods for avoiding various dental problems, such as abscesses and other infections.
Proper health and hygiene may help prevent some issues, injuries to the teeth and mouth may still occur. Fortunately, there are still some precautions that patients can take. For example, mouth protection, such as mouthguards and helmets, reduce impacts and prevent dental injuries when participating in sports or other risky activities.
How to Find An Emergency Dentist
When a dental emergency arises, it is crucial to find an emergency dentist in the area. Often, anyone can find an emergency dentist by asking the patient's regular dentist for advice. In some cases, the patient's regular dentist may provide emergency services outside of normal business hours. If they do not, they may be able to offer a referral to another dentist or facility that provides service after regular business hours.
Another method for finding a local emergency dentist is using the locator tool offered by the American Dental Association. Their website provides a way for patients to put in their addresses and find a facility that offers same-day care for emergencies.
What to Do Before Your Emergency Dental Appointment
Waiting for an emergency dental appointment can be difficult, especially when there is a lot of pain. Fortunately, some tips are available that can help ease the pain, swelling, and even bleeding before the appointment.
Rinse the mouth with warm water to ease pain, swelling, and bleeding. Next, apply pressure to the area. Using a cold compress in the area for twenty-minute intervals will also help reduce or eliminate swelling and bleeding. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can also help while waiting for an appointment.