When you accidentally sever your finger while cutting vegetables for dinner, you know to go to the emergency room. But what about when you bite into something and chip your tooth? Many people would still go to the emergency room for treatment. However, according to a recent article by the American Dental Association notes that many types of dental emergencies can be diverted from the emergency room into the dentist’s office.
While diverting dental emergencies to an emergency dental office sounds ideal, the question quickly becomes, “what is a dental emergency requiring a dentist vs what types of emergencies require an emergency room visit?” In order to help you make this decision, here are five common dental emergencies that require a visit to an emergency dentist:
Tooth pain can indicate a range of dental problems and its cause should be identified so that it can be taken care off. Two common causes of toothaches are pulp infections and something stuck between two teeth. When tooth pain comes on suddenly, is progressively getting worse, or is intense, it is especially important to see an emergency dentist. In the meantime, a cold compress may help alleviate some discomfort.
Chips or Cracks
Chips and cracks in the teeth can happen when biting down on hard objects, using teeth to do things besides biting and chewing, or because of an accident. People who grind or clench their teeth are also more susceptible to chipping or cracking teeth. If you have a tooth that has become chipped or cracked, then a visit to an emergency dentist is warranted. Any tooth fragments should be rinsed, preserved in a glass of milk or water, and brought to your emergency dental appointment.
Loose or Knocked Out Teeth
Any facial impact that causes teeth to become loose or fall out requires immediate emergency dental care. If a tooth is loose, it is important to try and keep that tooth in its socket to prevent it from falling out. This can be accomplished by gently biting down on the tooth to hold it in place. If a tooth has been knocked out, it is important to try to locate the missing tooth. If the missing tooth is located, it should only be handled by the crown and rinsed. You can preserve a missing tooth by doing one of two things: first, you can place it back in the socket and bite down like you would for a loose tooth. Second, you can store it in a glass of milk or water, like you would for tooth fragments from a chipped tooth.
Soft Tissue Injury
The soft tissues of the mouth include the lips, gums, inside of the cheeks, and tongue. When one of these structures has been injured, you will want to call your emergency dentist for instructions on where to go. Some cases may require an emergency dentist, while others may require an emergency room visit. Soft tissue injuries such as lacerations, punctures, and tears should be rinsed with warm water before applying pressure to cease bleeding.
Missing or Loose Dental Restoration
Both permanent and temporary restorations can become loose or fall out, although this is far more likely with temporary restorations. Despite the type of restoration, they both require emergency dental care. For a permanent restoration, you will need to bring in the restoration. With a temporary restoration, you may be able to use Vaseline, chapstick, or denture adhesive to keep the restoration in place until seeing your dentist.
Overall, toothaches, teeth that are chipped, cracked, loose, or missing, soft tissue injuries, and missing dental restorations are considered to be dental emergencies. When and if these dental emergencies happen to you or your family, be sure to see an emergency dentist for emergency dental treatment. Although most medical emergencies require a visit to the emergency room, most emergency rooms will simply refer dental emergencies back to an emergency dentist. Therefore, to save yourself time and excess discomfort, go straight to your local emergency dental office