younger redheaded woman holds jaw in pain while sitting in the dentists chair

From Ow! to Phew! 

General medical emergencies are something we’re typically prepared for, but are you prepared for a dental emergency?

Oral Health Emergencies and Steps to Take

When someone breaks an arm, a leg, they go straight to the emergency room. But what happens when you have a dental emergency? Many who are in this situation wonder what they should do. Dental emergencies can range from losing a tooth due to an injury to having a situation that has been ignored, turning into something far more serious, seemingly in an instant.

In this article, we share tips on how to manage this type of emergency and your best course of action if you are faced with this unfortunate circumstance.

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

Dental emergencies require urgent attention to relieve severe pain, save a tooth that is at risk or treat high-risk infections. Emergencies can range from accidents to something less obvious, like pain or discomfort, without knowing what to do. Lost fillings, chipped veneers, and broken dental appliances do not require emergency dental care. But what does, may surprise you. Let’s take a look at some emergency conditions which should be treated immediately.

Knocked-Out Tooth 

Small chips and/or minor fractures may be able to wait for a call to the dentist during business hours, but if your tooth has a severe crack, a large piece missing, nerve damage or has been knocked loose or out completely, this requires immediate medical attention.

Read More: How to Save a Knocked-Out Tooth 

Cracked or Chipped Tooth

In most cases, broken or chipped teeth can be repaired, but they require urgent dental care to do so. Your dentist may be able to fix a minor chip or break with a filling, but more serious breaks may require a root canal or crown.

Read More: What to Do When You Have a Chipped Tooth

Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess is a dental emergency. Delays in seeking treatment can lead to a far more serious medical issue. Abscesses can also cause significant pain. The condition is caused by an infection in the center portion of the tooth.

Severe Toothache

A toothache or tooth pain occurs when the nerve root of a tooth is irritated. Infection, decay, injury or loss of a tooth are the most common causes for dental pain.

Loose Teeth

If you’re an adult, you should never experience loose teeth. Your teeth have properly matured and grown into sturdy tools to help you eat, speak and live a healthy lifestyle. Loose teeth can indicate a tooth injury or infection. A dentist should look at this condition immediately to determine what the cause is.

Oral Injury

Traumatic dental injuries often occur as a result of an accident or sports injury. Treatment depends on the type, location and severity of each injury. This requires emergency examination by a dentist or endodontist to prevent further damage or injury.

 Why Dental Emergencies Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Dental emergencies can strike at any time, and when you least expect it. Unexpected injuries to your mouth can be incredibly painful and can even lead to health complications is they are not treated by your dentist quickly. Time is of the essence in a dental emergency and your dentist will make every effort to treat your emergency on the same day and without notice.

Steps to Take in the Event of a Dental Emergency

Knowing what to do in an emergency dental situation is crucial to dealing with the situation promptly to ensure the best overall outcome. Preparedness is important. Having the tools and information you need at your fingertips can help you manage the steps you need to take far more efficiently. Below, we list the most important information to help you through it.

Stay Calm

This goes for any sort of emergency, and as a general rule in life, but it’s important to remain as calm as possible. Distress and panic can already raise blood pressure, making any situation worse. Your body will thank you for doing your best to remain calm.

If A Tooth is Lost, Find the Missing Tooth

Your best possible outcome, if your tooth can be saved, is to have it saved with the original. If you can find it, save it. Bring it with you.

Control Any Bleeding

As with anything else, controlling bleeding is of the utmost importance.

Clean Out Your Mouth

If you can do so, clean your mouth as much as possible. If you can, rinse your mouth and clean any debris out. Cleaning the outside of your mouth is also important. This will allow your dentist to see everything clearly and lead to faster treatment.

Call Your Dentist for an Emergency Appointment

 Most dentists work on call for emergency care. They are prepared to deal with emergency dental cases. Therefore, speak to your dentist to determine the best way to reach out if needed, and save that information on your phone.

Ice the Area to Control Swelling

If possible, ice the area as best you can to reduce swelling. This also helps the dentist get a better understanding of what has transpired and how it should be worked on.

Much of the Outcome Is in Your Control

Being prepared in an emergency will always lead to a better outcome and faster treatment. Just like you would know to call 911 in an emergency, you should know who to contact if the emergency is in your mouth. Dentists have a deep understanding of the different conditions and injuries that can occur because of trauma or infection and are far better equipped to manage your treatment and recovery. Reach out to your local dentist and request information so that you are prepared to manage an unfortunate situation if it happens.

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