What is Considered a Dental Emergency?
Accidents happen. At any time throughout the day or the night, your or one of your family members could trip, or bite something hard, and experience a sudden pain in their tooth. While any trauma to the mouth and teeth can be frightening, not all situations require treatment from an emergency dentist.
Knowing the difference between everyday dental issues and dental emergencies is important for protecting your family’s overall oral health. Use this guide to know which problems need immediate treatment, and which issues can wait to be handled by your dentist during regular dental clinic hours.
Broken or Chipped Teeth
For a minor chip or a crack in a tooth, you may not need to visit an emergency dentist. Instead, schedule an appointment during regular clinic hours. In the meantime, eat carefully to prevent further damage.
However, if you or a family member experiences significant tooth pain after breaking a tooth, or a large portion of the tooth is missing, you should seek immediate medical care. A tooth fracture that penetrates the tooth pulp will likely be painful, and your dentist may recommend a root canal or even extraction and implant replacement. Luckily, dental implants have a reported success rate of 98%, so you won’t end up with a gap in your smile!
Lost Permanent Teeth
Losing an adult tooth is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. With quick action, a knocked-out tooth can actually be replaced and restored by an emergency dentist. If you or a family member lose a permanent tooth, pick up and rinse the tooth very gently, but avoid touching the root. If you can, place the tooth back in its socket. Otherwise, put the tooth in a cup of milk, and bring both the tooth and the patient to the dentist at once.
Loose or Misaligned Teeth
Sometimes, a tooth that experiences trauma does not entirely come out of its socket but instead becomes wiggly. In this case, hold the tooth in its proper place with very light pressure, and seek emergency dental care. The dentist will likely try to splint the tooth using connections to surrounding teeth to stabilize it while it heals.
Finally, any trauma that causes bleeding or open wounds inside the mouth is considered a dental emergency. Severely bitten tongues or jaw puncture wounds need to be treated as soon as possible. If an oral surgeon is not available to stop the bleeding, seek care at a hospital emergency room.
Essentially, any dental event that causes significant pain, severe bleeding, or a tooth being lost is considered a dental emergency. If you experience any of the above dental complications, seek an emergency dentist to protect your oral health.