While your first instinct would be to call a dentist if you encounter a dental emergency, this option may not always be available during holidays, weekends, or after hours. In these cases, an emergency dentist or a visit to an emergency room may be your only recourse. There are some key differences between standard dental problems and those considered a dental emergency. For example, a standard dental issue is one that over-the-counter medications can relieve until a dentist can see you. A dental emergency is one that might jeopardize your physical health and may lead to tooth loss if not resolved quickly. In this article, we inspect what makes up a dental emergency and what you can expect when visiting an emergency dentist.
Well, what exactly is a dental emergency?
If you have experienced a dental emergency in the last six months, you can take solace in knowing that you are not alone. According to the American Family Physician, over 22 percent of Americans have reported experiencing severe oral pain or a dental emergency within the last 6 months. However, the difference between a standard dental problem and a dental emergency is not always clear. If your dental problem meets any of the following criteria, contact an emergency dentist sooner rather than later:
- Severe pain coupled with bleeding or swelling
- Teeth that have become loose
- If you have an abscess or serious infection
- A severely chipped or cracked tooth
Any dental problem that requires immediate attention to prevent tooth loss or to resolve an infection, pain, or bleeding is one that makes up a dental emergency. More common dental emergencies include:
Knocked-out teeth—Any physical trauma that results in the tooth being knocked out requires immediate attention. Believe it or not, most times, it is possible to have the tooth reinserted back into the socket as long as the problem is addressed quickly, according to the American Association of Endodontists.
Severely chipped or cracked teeth—Similar to knocked-out teeth, severely chipped or cracked teeth are often the result of physical trauma and are issues an emergency dentist can fix. In the interim, however, there are things you can do for temporary pain relief and swelling that may be associated with a chipped or cracked tooth, including using a cold compress to minimize swelling and by swishing warm salt water in your mouth to prevent infection.
Tooth abscess—Similar to gum disease, an abscessed tooth can cause severe pain and can jeopardize your physical health. An abscessed tooth contains pockets of pus that can infect the oral cavity and also the body if the infection leaches into the bloodstream. Symptoms of an abscessed tooth may include tooth sensitivity, facial swelling, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and much more.
These are not the only dental problems that make up an emergency; however, they are the ones that are most common and require immediate attention in preventing additional oral and physical health problems.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AN EMERGENCY DENTIST
Dental emergencies can be anxiety-inducing; however, not promptly addressing them can make matters worse. The best way to soothe stressful feelings associated with an emergency dental visit is by choosing a dentist who is well-versed in a variety of dental emergencies. These practitioners have seen just about every variation of a dental emergency imaginable and work well under pressure. The exact protocol that your dentist will follow depends on your specific dental emergency. In most cases, however, you can expect the following:
Once you have arrived at the emergency dental office, you can expect your practitioner to ask you questions relative to your medical history and whether you’re allergic to certain medications. The next step in the process will be to have X-rays done, which will offer some insights regarding the extent of the dental problem. They also allow the dental practitioner to come up with a treatment plan that will work best for you. Last, your practitioner will explain the extent of the injury and the necessary treatment to resolve the problem.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER GOING TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM?
Emergency dentists can treat most dental problems; however, depending on the dental emergency, you may be better off going to an emergency room instead. Dental emergencies that may require a visit to a hospital include:
- Broken or dislocated jaw
- Severe lacerations to the face or oral cavity
- An abscess that impedes your ability to chew or swallow
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER VISITING A PROFESSIONAL?
Aside from physical trauma, many dental emergencies stem from gum disease, which can lead to severe pain and infection. Although most dentists can perfectly treat gum problems, such issues may require a visit to a professional emergency dentist. In most cases, gum disease can cause the pulp of the tooth to become infected and inflamed. Emergency dentists are well-versed in removing the damaged pulp from the tooth and performing a root canal, which is needed after they have removed the pulp from the tooth.
You have several options available to you for treating a dental emergency. According to Dr. Val Daniyar D.M.D., a Naples emergency dentist, the worst thing you can do is ignore the pain and hope that the problem takes care of itself. In doing so, you risk developing a severe infection that can worsen your dental problem and jeopardize your physical health.
This is a collaborative guest post, the ideas and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Mommy Ramblings.