Whenever we experience any type of dental problem, our first order of business always is to contact our dentist to check up on our teeth. There’s no problem if the dental issue happens during the day and you’re in a location close to your dentist. You can always call your dentist and let him/her know you’re coming.
However, what if your dental problem happens during the night or the holidays? If you need help with the problem, then you will have to visit the emergency dentist near you and get help there. However, take note that if the issue isn’t that serious, you can always just wait for the day or when your dentist will become available.
It is important that if you experience any issues with your teeth or gums that you can recognize whether or not it is a dental emergency that requires immediate attention and can make you lose a tooth or even threaten your life.
What exactly is a dental emergency?
The American Dental Association (ADA) defines a dental emergency as “potentially life-threatening and requires immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection.” Thus, not every dental problem should be considered as an emergency.
If you experience any of the following, then it should be considered a dental emergency:
- severe tooth pain and/or bleeding – If experience a severe, consistent toothache or if your tooth doesn’t stop bleeding on its own, then you can consider that a dental emergency and seek help from a dentist immediately.
- tooth getting knocked loose or completely off – There are times after an accident or while playing rough sports that a tooth may get knocked out of its socket. This situation shouldn’t happen normally and needs immediate attention from a dentist.
- tooth infection (e.g. abscess) – If you notice swelling on your gums at the area where the root of your tooth is, then you may have a tooth infection or abscess. This can potentially be life-threatening if left untreated since this type of infection will not heal by itself.
- excessive bleeding on your mouth – If your gums or mouth bleeds and doesn’t stop, then you need to treat it as an emergency.
Dentaleh, a dental directory and portal, advises that if you have a dental emergency like the ones above then you have to see a dentist immediately. Be very detailed about describing the incident so that the dentist will have an easier time treating you. In the case where your dentist’s clinic isn’t open, then you will have to visit an emergency dentist.
How do you assess if you have a dental emergency or not?
If the dental incident requires immediate professional treatment to alleviate severe pain, stop bleeding, or restore a tooth then it should by all means be treated as an emergency. If you experience symptoms of a severe tooth infection, such as gum swelling or a foul taste in your mouth, you should also treat it as a dental emergency and have a dentist check it up.
There are times, however, that a dental problem does not need immediate attention as long as you can manage the issue by yourself. These include:
- mild or moderate toothache – if you experience tooth pain that is not serious and dissipates within the next few minutes or so, then it probably does not need emergency treatment. You should take note of it though and inform your dentist on your next visit.
- lost crown or filling – a lost crown or filling is not a dental emergency since you can always remedy these problems. For a lost crown, you can temporarily put it back in place using dental cement, which you can purchase in a pharmacy. For a lost filling, you can cover the cavity with sugar-free gum until you can visit your dentist again to have the filling replaced.
- chipped tooth with minimal to no pain – a chipped or cracked tooth may look unpleasant and feel uncomfortable but as long as it didn’t leave any sharp chips inside your mouth that can injure it, then you can afford to wait to visit your dentist. If there are any sharp edges, you can cover it with paraffin wax or chewing gum in the meantime.
How can you prevent potential dental emergencies in the future?
It is essential that everyone practice good oral hygiene in general. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups. That way you are always on top with your current dental health and help prevent dental emergencies.
During dental checkups, your dentist will look for symptoms of tooth decay, infection, and periodontal disease. He/she will also check if you have any loose dental crowns or fillings so that it can be repaired. Dental cleaning will also be done if your teeth need it.
Any possible risks of a dental emergency can also be addressed by your dentist through the use of a custom treatment plan that is tailor suited for you and your teeth. Always follow the advice of your dentist if possible, to minimize this risk and ensure that your teeth and gums are in tip-top shape.
Even with a treatment plan though, there is always the chance of encountering a dental emergency, such as through an accident. Prepare yourself by always having your dentist’s phone number stored and having someone take you to the clinic if you are unable to.