When you’re having an oral health issue, your first call should be to your dentist. But, what if there’s a problem on a weekend, during the holidays, or in the middle of the night? If you’ve run into a problem outside of office hours, you must see an emergency dentist, right? It’s crucial to know the difference between a common issue that can wait and an emergency that can lead to tooth loss and other health issues. Here, you’ll learn how to tell when you’re experiencing a dental emergency.
Is It Really an Emergency?
According to statistics, approximately 22% of adults don’t schedule regular dental visits because of fear. However, failure to do so may lead to a dental health crisis. Not every situation is an emergency, and sometimes, it’s possible to delay treatment. To help determine whether to see an emergency dentist or if you can wait, ask these questions:
- Am I in pain? Bleeding and severe pain are signs of an emergency.
- Have I lost one or more teeth? With prompt treatment, we may save those teeth.
- Are my teeth loose? Adults’ teeth should never be loose or fall out. Loose teeth, even with no pain, are a serious issue.
- Do I have an infection? Abscesses and other oral infections can be life threatening, and treatment shouldn’t wait.
Any oral issue that requires immediate treatment to ease pain, stop bleeding, or save teeth is a dental emergency. If you have one or more of these symptoms, call an emergency dentist or go to the ER.
What’s Not an Emergency
If your oral health problem can wait until your regular dentist can schedule an appointment, it’s not an emergency. Sometimes problems that seem urgent can wait, as long as you’re taking care of yourself in other ways. For instance, a cracked or chipped tooth is a dental emergency if the break is painful or has left fragments that lead to trauma in the mouth. However, if a damaged tooth doesn’t hurt, you can wait to see the dentist. Toothaches can wait for conventional treatment as long as there are no other symptoms of an infection, such as a fever or facial swelling.
If you’ve lost a filling or a crown, you can probably wait a day or two to see your regular dentist. Try sticking a small piece of sugar-free gum into the cavity left after you’ve lost a filling. With lost crowns, you may temporarily put them back into place with dental cement or denture adhesive; just don’t use super glue!
The Most Common Dental Emergencies
If you’re experiencing any of these dental emergencies, here are some tips on managing the issue until a dentist can see you.
- Knocked-out teeth: With immediate action, it’s possible for a dentist to reinsert and save a knocked-out, or avulsed, tooth. Carefully pick up the tooth, being careful not to touch its root, and rinse it gently. If it’s possible, reinsert the tooth in its socket. Otherwise, put the tooth in milk and get to the dentist as soon as possible to maximize the chances of saving the tooth.
- Chipped or cracked teeth: According to Val Daniyar DMD, a cosmetic dentist in Naples, FL, cracked teeth are a common reason why people seek out an emergency dentist. In such a case, if you have a serious or painful fracture, rinse your mouth with warm water and use cold compresses to reduce swelling. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain, but don’t use OTC numbing gels because they can damage the gums.
- Abscesses: Dental abscesses are a severe and potentially fatal condition in which a pus pocket in a tooth leads to an infection. Tooth abscesses may cause sensitivity to cold and heat, a high fever, a severe toothache, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, facial swelling, and bumps on the affected area of the gums. Because the infection can quickly spread into the surrounding area, it’s essential to seek prompt dental care.
Avoiding Potential Dental Emergencies
The most effective way to minimize the chances of a dental emergency is to maintain good oral hygiene and to schedule regular dental checkups. During an office visit, your dentist will look for problems such as loose crowns, missing fillings, and signs of gum disease, infection, and decay.
Your dentist may create a customized treatment plan that addresses any problems before they turn into emergencies. It’s important to pay close attention to the signs your body and teeth are giving you, as they may tell you when you’re experiencing a dental emergency.
Don’t Delay, Seek Treatment Right Away
Although a good dental hygiene routine will help keep most of these circumstances under control, dental emergencies sometimes happen. If you are going through an oral health crisis, immediate action may prevent the problem from getting any worse. Visit Dr. Daniyar’s site for more details on dental emergency care.