Accidents can happen at any time, day or night. It’s important to know what types of injuries constitute a dental emergency and which ones can wait until an appointment can be made. If you can identify what is and what is not a dental emergency, you can save yourself the time and expense of going to the emergency room unnecessarily. There are some oral injuries which will require immediate treatment, but others that can wait until the dentist’s office is open during regular hours.
Common Mouth Injuries and Emergencies
Some common mouth injuries include teeth that get knocked out, broken or cracked. This can happen to anybody, anytime. You can even chip a tooth just biting into a piece of food that is too hard. Participating in sports often causes injuries to the mouth, as can any type of fall or accident. Whether or not you have a dental emergency can depend on things like which tooth was injured and how severe it is. Sometimes a chipped tooth or a minor fracture are not emergencies and can wait until the dentist office is open for regular hours. But if the tooth is cracked completely in half and is extremely painful, a huge piece of tooth is missing, or the tooth was knocked completely out of its socket you need to seek medical attention immediately.
What to do if a Tooth was Knocked Out
Having a tooth knocked out completely is considered a medical emergency. Limit handling or touching the tooth as much as you can, but see if you can put it back in the socket. To help a bit, try gently biting down, or use a piece of moist gauze or moist tea bag to secure it in place. If the tooth just won’t go back in its socket, rinse it off to make sure it’s clean, then put it in a container of milk or in your own saliva until you can get to emergency medical personnel. If the socket is bleeding, try applying a cool, wet compress to get it to stop.
What to do in other Dental Emergencies
When you have a broken tooth or get a tooth knocked out, it’s pretty obvious you have an emergency. But other times, it’s not as easy to recognize emergencies. One example is if you are in extreme pain but are unaware you have an abscess because it is not readily visible. It is considered an emergency if you have fever along with severe facial or dental pain since these are signs of an abscess. If you encounter some sort of facial trauma which causes damaged, loss or fractured teeth or facial bones, it is an emergency and you should seek medical attention.
When to Call the Dentist for an Emergency
If you are showing symptoms of an abscess or break your tooth during regular business hours, go ahead and call the dentist’s office. In many cases they have time slots they leave open for such emergencies. If you are sure their offices are closed, you can call anyway. Sometimes a recording will tell you who to call in an emergency, or give other important instructions to those needing immediate care. Some dentists may have answering services or dentists who are on call to receive such calls. In any case, you can go to the closest emergency room for an evaluation. The medical staff can help determine if the injury is severe enough for emergency care, or if it can wait for the dentist office to open. They can often prescribe pain medications or antibiotics to help alleviate your symptoms until the dentist’s office is open.