Dental Emergencies 101: What You Should Know
When problems arise with your teeth, you should reach for the phone and contact your dentist. However, most dental professionals are not available outside normal office hours, such as weekends and holidays. If you face a dental issue that can’t wait, you will probably need to go to the emergency room or an emergency dentist.
Although problems with your teeth may all seem like they are urgent, it is important to know the difference between a dental emergency and a problem that can wait until your dentist is available.
Dental Emergencies Explained
If you are in pain, there are some questions that you can ask yourself to determine if it is an emergency, which include:
- Is your mouth bleeding?
- Have you experienced tooth loss or a lose tooth?
- Do you have an abscessed tooth?
Any oral problems that have symptoms that include chronic pain, excessive bleeding, or tooth loss is an emergency. In addition, if you feel that you have an infection in one of your teeth, it is imperative to seek medical attention because an infected tooth could be life-threatening. While you may be apprehensive about going to an after hours dentist because you are not sure if he or she takes your insurance type, it is still best to seek immediate treatment.
What Oral Problems Can Wait for Your Regular Dentist?
If you feel that your situation can wait for your regular dentist, then it probably can. You can typically wait to seek treatment for a tooth that is slightly cracked or chipped, and if you have a minor toothache, you can also wait to seek treatment from your dentist. In addition, a lost filling or crown isn’t typically considered an urgent problem.
Common Oral Emergencies
If you experience any of the following situations, seek treatment immediately.
If you take action immediately after you lose a tooth, you may be able to have it reinserted. To keep the tooth preserved, only pick it up by the base or the crown and not by the root. You can try to reinsert it in the gum socket if possible, but if you can’t, then you can place it in a glass of milk until you seek treatment. The faster that you seek treatment, the better the chances that an urgent care dentist will be able to save your tooth.
A Fractured Tooth
While minor chips and cracks typically aren’t an urgent problem, serious fractures can cause severe pain and put you at risk for losing the tooth. If your tooth has been seriously fractured, be sure to clean your mouth will lukewarm water and apply an ice pack to your face to prevent swelling. You can also take a pain reliever, such as Tylenol, Advil, or Motrin. However, try to avoid using oral numbing medications or pain pills because it can cause problems with your gums.
An Infected Tooth
If you have an abscessed tooth, it is vital to seek immediate care. A pus pocket that is in the tooth has caused it to become infected. If the infection is in the top tooth, it can spread to the brain, and an infected tooth in the bottom of your mouth can cause swelling in the neck that can restrict breathing. You may also have a fever, sensitivity to hot and cold, and lymph nodes that are tender to the touch. Other symptoms of an infected tooth include a small bump on the gums surrounding the abscessed tooth and facial swelling. If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is important to seek treatment before it spreads to the jaw or surrounding tissues. To ease pain and discomfort, you can rinse with warm salt water, which will also bring the pus to the surface of the gums.
How You can Stay Free of Oral Emergencies
You can significantly reduce the chance of oral emergencies if you practice proper oral hygiene and maintain routine exams and cleanings. Routine check-ups are important because your dentist will examine your oral health and look for cavities, infection, and periodontal disease. In addition, your dentist will also examine your fillings and crowns to ensure that they are intact.
If you have a good oral plan in action, it can prevent any problems from developing into urgent situations. You should routinely examine your teeth and gums and be prepared to take action if an urgent problem arises. When you are concerned about if the type of insurance that you have covers urgent care dentists and hospital visits, check beforehand to ensure that you aren’t stuck with a costly medical bill. If your insurance doesn’t cover urgent care visits, then try to put money aside in case you need immediate oral care.