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Emergency Room or Emergency Dentist? Tips to Help You Decide

You’re in the middle of a nasty toothache, but you don’t know if it’s an emergency or something that can wait until Monday. Should you go to the emergency room or an emergency dentist? Depending on the nature and severity of your dental injury or pain, either one may be necessary.

Understanding when to seek out emergency dental care is key to managing proper dental health. This article contains helpful information on recognizing the signs and symptoms of a dental emergency so you can decide when to go to the emergency room or an emergency dentist.

What is Considered a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency is any situation that requires immediate treatment for a severe tooth or gum injury, trauma to the jaw or mouth, an abscess (a pocket of pus in the tooth), a loose permanent tooth, or swelling of the face and jaws. These situations require urgent attention from a qualified dentist as delay could cause lasting damage. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may need to visit an emergency dentist immediately.

Urgent Dental Emergencies

The following are urgent situations that require same-day care:

  • Severe toothache: a severe toothache could indicate an infection in the root of your tooth, and you may need an emergency root canal.
  • Dental abscess, which is a pus-filled pocket at the base of a tooth: this is another sign of a tooth infection that needs attention right away.
  • Lost filling or a loose filling: if your filling is loose or has come out, we will want to see you as soon as possible.
  • Broken teeth: If your tooth is badly broken, especially if it is broken down into the root, call us immediately.
  • Lost tooth: we might be able to save the tooth if you call us as soon as the incident happens. Put the tooth in a cup of milk as soon as it falls out.
  • Facial swelling or swelling in the gums, mouth, or jaw: If you’re experiencing facial swelling that extends into the neck, this could indicate a severe infection, and you should call us immediately. If the swelling obstructs your breathing, visit your nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Bleeding from the mouth that you can’t stop at home: If your gums or mouth are bleeding and you can’t stop it by biting down on a piece of gauze, you should call us right away. If the bleeding is severe, this may indicate a medical emergency and you should visit an emergency room.

Non-Urgent Dental Emergencies

  • Dull but persistent tooth pain (or pain in your wisdom teeth): start by taking over-the-counter pain medication and then call our dental office.
  • A slightly chipped tooth: if the chip is small and not too sharp, this can usually wait a day or two.
  • A cut inside your mouth: try rinsing with warm water or salt water first. If the wound doesn’t heal on its own within a day or two, give us a call.
  • Tooth sensitivity: if you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity when eating or drinking very hot or cold foods or beverages, start by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and then give us a call to make an appointment.

When to Go to the Emergency Dentist

Generally speaking, you should go to the emergency dentist if you have dental issues that requires immediate attention and cannot wait until regular office hours. Especially if you are experiencing severe pain, bleeding that won’t stop, or a knocked out tooth, it is important to seek treatment immediately to reduce the chances of complications and permanent damage.

When To Go to the Emergency Room

Although most dental problems can’t be treated at the hospital emergency room, there are some times when you should visit urgent care or the closest emergency room for immediate treatment, such as if you’ve experienced severe oral trauma. If you suspect you have a broken jaw or broken facial bones due to an accident or injury, excessive bleeding that has not stopped, or excessive swelling in the face that obstructs your breathing, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Other dental-related issues may not require an immediate trip to the ER, as most emergency rooms don’t have a dentist on staff who can treat tooth issues.

Tips for Preventing Dental Emergencies

Some dental emergencies can’t be avoided, like accidents or injuries. But proper dental care can help you avoid a bacterial infection or other tooth problems that can lead to an emergency if not treated. Here are some tips for preventing common dental emergencies and keeping your mouth healthy.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste in order to avoid plaque buildup that can lead to tooth decay.
  • See a dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups.
  • Don’t chew on ice or other hard items.
  • Don’t use your teeth to open bottles.
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing sports or participating in contact activities.

Call Discovery Dental for Quick Dental Trauma Treatment

Dental emergencies can be an unexpected and disruptive part of life. From a lost crown to a cracked tooth, there are many things that can go wrong with our teeth. Discovery Dental Shelby offers emergency services for our patients who are experiencing dental pain and need treatment right away. Your oral health is important to us, and we’re here to provide dental treatment when you need it most. If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call us at 419-896-4613.