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Agoura Hills Dental Designs
28632 Roadside Dr Ste 270
Maryville Modern Dentistry
1053 Hunters Crossing
Bright Now! Dental - Arvada
7985 B Wadsworth Blvd
Neibauer Dental Care - Fort Belvoir
8626 Richmond Hwy
Arlington Cosmetic Dental Group
1731 Claredon Blvd
Albuquerque Modern Dentistry
2800-A Coors Blvd NW
NE Heights Modern Dentistry
5901 Wyoming Blvd NE Ste W
6 Day Dental - Allen
1205 W McDermott Dr Ste 120
Smile Line Dentistry - Antioch
3220 Lone Tree Way Ste 102
Santa Anita Dental Group
721 W Huntington Dr Ste B
What is a dental emergency?
A dental emergency can be a potentially life-threatening situation that requires action to alleviate pain, stop bleeding, or prevent damage to the body. Emergencies are sometimes caused by traumatic injuries. More often, however, they are the result of long-term neglect of oral health and hygiene maintenance.
Knowing about first aid or where to go for help if something happens can protect your health. For your own good, you should be able to differentiate between issues that are dangerous and those that are simply unexpected. The latter can safely wait until your next scheduled appointment.
Here is a comprehensive guide about the most common dental emergencies you might have to deal with.
The category of immediate dental emergency compiles cases that need fast action. This usually means you have about an hour.
Immediate emergencies often involve intense pain. There are a few things you can do from home. But this may not be enough.
You should seek medical help as soon as possible. Not acting might mean losing a tooth, serious damage to your health, or even danger to your life.
A tooth that completely falls out of the socket is usually caused by an impact such as a fall or other traumatic injury. If you act quickly, the tooth may be reimplanted and kept alive.
What to do?
- Pick up the tooth by the chewing part but don’t touch the root.
- Rinse it with water if it’s dirty. Do not use soap or any other chemicals.
- Try to place the tooth back into the hole. Push it in gently and hold in place. You can bite down softly.
- If you are bleeding or swollen, keep the tooth moist and just bring it to a dentist.
- Transport the tooth in your cheek, in milk, or in an emergency preservation kit (if you happen to have one). Water can make the cells on the root expand and burst, while milk and dedicated substances contain antimicrobials and keep the correct pH.
The symptoms you should look for are:
- swelling (sometimes even on your cheek or jaw),
- abcesses on your gums,
- pus, or
- a fever.
Act as quickly as possible if you are in severe pain or have trouble breathing.
What to do?
- Call a dentist’s office to make sure they will accept walk-ins.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water a few times. This can reduce pain and will bring the pus to the surface.
If you can’t reach a dentist, go to the nearest general doctor or an emergency room. The gums might be rinsed with antimicrobial water floss. You will likely get oral antibiotics.
Soft-tissue bleeding is usually a sign of gum disease but can also be the result of trauma or infection. If the second, you should immediately seek medical help. If you are taking blood thinners, that is likely to make the bleeding worse.
What to do?
- Rinse your mouth.
- Try to locate the source of the bleeding or pain. If this is near a tooth that is loose or moving, visit a dentist immediately.
- If your teeth are secure, gently brush them and drink plenty of water.
- You can take OTC painkillers if necessary.
If bleeding doesn’t stop within 30 minutes, you should seek help, ideally from a dentist. You will have X-rays that will help determine if all your teeth are intact.
Urgent emergencies should be treated within a few hours. The situations described below are contingent upon the risk of getting a serious infection.
You can often control damage or manage pain using at-home solutions and methods. Bearing long-term effects of emergencies, professional help is still necessary.
A cracked or chipped tooth is commonly the result of an injury. In order to classify it as an emergency, there must be pain. You may feel:
- erratic pain when chewing, or
- sudden pain when your tooth comes into contact with hot or cold temperatures.
If you act quickly, there is a high chance that your tooth will continue to function as normal for many years.
What to do?
- Immediately rinse your mouth with warm water.
- If you have any swelling, use a cold compress to slow it down.
Go and see a dentist or endodontist regardless of how severe the crack is. You will have an X-ray and the tooth will be mended if necessary. If the fracture is more severe, the tooth may require a crown or may need to be extracted.
A tooth loose in its socket is most commonly a sign of gum disease. Other causes include injury and teeth grinding. The second case is when it is considered an emergency.
What to do?
- If you see swelling, gently brush your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water.
Visit a dentist on the day you notice a problem. If you have gum disease you might have an emergency SRP, preceded by an X-ray. If any of your teeth are moving, they will probably be secured with a dental splint temporarily.
What to do?
- Remove the piece from your mouth to prevent you from swallowing it or breathing it in.
- Contact your dentist.
- Try to keep the piece that fell out, it might be used again.
- If your entire crown fell off, you can take advantage of dental glue, available in drug stores. This should be done as an emergency measure. It is not an alternative to a professional fix. You should see a dentist as soon as possible.
Your dentist will probably take an X-ray to assess the damage. He or she will put the dental work back in or install a temporary restoration.
Depending on how severe the injury or pain is, the following issues can wait for until the following day. If symptoms subside, you might be able to forgo a visit until your next checkup.
In the case that you are unsure, you can contact a dental professional by phone before setting up an appointment or simply showing up at the office.
What to do?
- Make sure your mouth is clean. Brush, floss, and rinse your mouth to remove any food debris.
- Wash your mouth with saltwater solution or hydrogen peroxide rinse.
- Keep a cold compress on the area that is most painful. Ten minutes on, ten minutes off.
- Take OTC pain relievers. Do not chew aspirin or hold it on your gums, as some online sources instruct to do. This could cause gum issues later, such as chemical burns.
Emergency dental visit:
If the pain does not subside for a few days, visit a dentist or endodontist. In the case of decay, you might need a filling or even a root canal treatment.
Traditional metal and ceramic braces can sometimes behave unexpectedly. The biggest concerns in terms of an emergency are wires that have snapped or become loose, and ones that need to be clipped. Other cases include protruding and poking wires.
What to do?
- If your wire has become loose or if it snapped, contact your orthodontist. You will probably need to make an emergency visit to the office.
- In the case that a wire has slipped out of the bracket and is irritating your gum or cheek, snap the sharp end off with nail clippers or place a cotton swab or orthodontic wax between the metal and tissue.
- If the main problem is that wires are irritating your gums or cheek, you can use dental wax to make edges less sharp. It can be removed in an emergency room if it is causing you serious discomfort.
- Mouth sores caused by such issues can be treated with numbing gel, such as Orasol.
Call your orthodontist and schedule the appointment. During the visit your wires will be adjusted or replaced as necessary.
Dentures need to be relined once in a while, but if it is causing you discomfort it is a good idea to contact your dentist. This is especially true if you are undergoing chemotherapy. An ill-fitting denture can lead to an infection or even oral cancer.
What to do?
- Remove your denture and rinse your mouth with chlorhexidine mouthwash if available, otherwise use a salt water rinse.
- If your gums are inflamed, don’t wear your denture for at least 24 hours. You might have to keep a liquid diet.
Call your dentist and discuss your problem. Something might be simply trapped in your denture and lead to inflammation. After your gums heal you might be able to wear it again. Your dentist will instruct you on whether you need to make an office visit for an adjustment, a reline, or a new denture fitting.
Non-emergency dental issues
Distinguishing between what is and isn’t a dental emergency is especially important during the spread of COVID-19.
The following are not dental emergencies:
- Regular visits for exams and cleanings
- Recall visits
- Routine radiographs
- Preventive therapies
- Regular visits for braces
- Treatment of cavities that aren’t painful
- Removal of teeth that aren’t painful
- Restorative dentistry including treatment of asymptomatic carious lesions
- Aesthetic dental procedures
If any apply to you, you can safely reschedule your visit until a later date. It is vital for your own safety as well as the safety of dental staff.
You should only break quarantine if the procedure you need is indispensable for your health or life, or if you are in moderate to severe pain.
Avoid dental emergencies
Prevention is always the best measure, especially when it comes to your health. You should take care of your mouth, just as you would with any other body part.
- To prevent physical injuries, avoid physical activity without a mouthguard.
- Do not use your teeth as tools. They are not meant to serve as bottle or can openers, or to pierce through tape.
- Keep up with regular checkups and cleanings. Prevention is always cheaper than emergency treatment, especially if you find a budget-friendly dentist in your area.
- Make sure to care for your hygiene. Brush your teeth after each meal and floss at least once a day to prevent swelling and caries. Using a mouth rinse following brushing/flossing is also beneficial.
- Dental emergencies - NCBI
- Replantation after traumatic avulsion - NCBI
- Life-Threatening Oro-Facial Infections - NCBI
- On the Mechanics of Fatigue and Fracture in Teeth - NCBI
- Emergency orthodontic care - Europe PMC
- Chemotherapy: oral side effects and dental interventions. A review of the literature - SDS Journal
Frequently asked questions
Just like any other visit! Specify when you want to see a dentist, and we will match you with the available specialist. Many of our readers use Authority Dental to book a same-day appointment in a convenient location.
You don’t need to call every nearby office while suffering from acute toothache. Simply contact us, and we will help you find an emergency dentist who can see you right away. Our service is available 24/7, so we can assist you at any time.
Dental emergencies happen regardless of the day of the week. Luckily, there are weekend dentists who are ready to help you during those days. Finding a specialist on Saturday is usually not a problem, but it might be a different dentist than you are used to seeing. There are not many dental clinics open on Sunday. However, don’t lose hope—we will help you find a weekend emergency dentist near you.
Not all dental emergencies are equally severe. Some problems can safely wait a day or two, while other symptoms should be taken care of as soon as possible. Go to the emergency dentist if you have experienced trauma that made your teeth loose, cracked, chipped, or caused prolonged bleeding in your mouth. Intense pain, abscess, or infections also require prompt dental intervention.
If you act quickly, it’s possible to keep the knocked-out tooth alive and reimplant it. Before visiting an emergency dentist, pick up your tooth and rinse it with clean water. Try to place it back in your mouth. Hold only the crown and don’t touch the root. If your gums are swollen or bleeding, don’t put the tooth back in. Instead, keep it moist in milk (not water!) or dedicated substances from a dental first-aid kit.
If you have to wait before seeing an emergency dentist, try to alleviate tooth pain at home. Apply a cold compress by wrapping a bag of ice in a towel. Another method is holding a peppermint tea bag against the affected tooth. Rinsing your mouth with salt water is a common practice. This will reduce inflammation and cleanse oral wounds. If home remedies are not enough, take an anti-inflammatory painkiller, such as ibuprofen.
When you experience a dental emergency, see a dentist as soon as possible. Some problems should not wait more than 24 hours. Immediately be treated for a knocked-out tooth and soft tissue bleeding that lasts longer than 30 minutes. Make an appointment if you notice signs of advanced infection, such as swelling, inflammation, abscess on your gums, pus, or a fever. Left untreated, these can lead to trouble breathing and be life-threatening.
Not all toothaches are emergencies, but this doesn’t mean that you should wait for your next scheduled visit. See a dentist within a couple of days if you experience intense tooth pain as a result of decay or infection. Make an appointment when ill-fitting dentures cause discomfort or inflammation and need relining. Similarly, problems with braces shouldn’t be ignored for too long.
Yes. Emergency dentists are qualified to perform tooth extractions. If the tooth is severely damaged, an emergency extraction might be the best option to prevent further oral issues.
Even when regular dental offices were closed due to the pandemic, there’s always a possibility that you can find an emergency dentist near you. While check-ups and cleanings can wait, bleedings of fractured teeth have to be taken care of right away. Despite the situation, we will help you find a dentist at any time.
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