A dental emergency is a situation where your oral health is at risk, such as a lost crown, knocked-out tooth, or severe toothache. Some dental problems can seem insignificant, so it’s vital to understand what counts as a dental emergency. Knowing when to visit your dentist for emergency care can help protect your oral health.
Continue reading to learn more about dental emergencies, including what problems are considered emergencies and what to do if you experience one.
What Conditions Require Emergency Dental Care?
You may not know when a dental issue is an emergency because not every dental emergency is easy to identify. Knowing when to visit the dentist can help protect and preserve your smile.
You should visit your dentist for emergency care if you experience any of the following problems:
Bleeding or Aching Gums
Bleeding gums are a common symptom of dental hygiene issues like gingivitis and gum disease. Sometimes, your gums may bleed because you brushed your teeth too hard or haven’t flossed in a while, but frequent bleeding can mean a more significant problem.
The best thing you can do if you have aching or bleeding gums is schedule a visit to your dentist. They can complete an exam and determine the cause of your discomfort.
Chipped, Cracked, or Broken Teeth
A chipped, cracked, or broken tooth is something you should never ignore. At-home care isn’t ideal—you should visit your dentist immediately when you experience this emergency. A damaged tooth can cause pain, making it harder to chew and eat.
The following actions can help if you experience a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth:
- Chipped tooth: Flush the inside of your mouth with warm water & apply a cold compress to your jaw to reduce swelling. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever for comfort but visit your dentist as soon as possible.
- Cracked tooth: Cracks can vary in severity, so visit your dentist if you experience pain, sensitivity to temperature, or swelling.
- Broken tooth: You should rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the affected area. Apply pressure to stop any bleeding & use a cold compress to reduce swelling before visiting your dentist.
Lost Filling or Crown
A filling or crown can help restore a damaged tooth, but these treatments can have problems. Your filling or crown may detach itself, exposing your tooth. An exposed tooth can be uncomfortable or painful, making treatment necessary.
Your dentist can repair your tooth with a new filling or crown. Visit them as soon as possible, and you can replace your missing dental appliance.
A knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency requiring immediate care. If left for too long, a lost tooth may not be saveable. Visit your dentist or an emergency room immediately with your removed tooth, and they can help as best as possible.
Follow these steps if you lose a tooth and visit your dentist right away:
- Handle your tooth by the top or crown—never touch the roots.
- Inspect the crown & root for any possible fractures or missing pieces.
- Rinse your tooth for 10 seconds in a bowl of lukewarm tap water if there’s any debris or dirt on the tooth. Don’t hold your tooth under running water—too much water can damage the tooth’s roots.
- Try to place your tooth back in its socket. If it doesn’t fit, bite down slowly & gently on a moist piece of paper towel to keep the tooth in place. Hold your tooth in this position until you see your dentist. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, place it in a container of cold milk or your saliva.
After completing these steps, get to your dentist or an emergency room for treatment.
Tooth pain, commonly known as toothache, is pain or soreness in or around your tooth. It can feel like a sharp or dull pain while increasing sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks.
Tooth pain can happen for several reasons, including:
The cause of tooth pain can vary, so it’s always a good idea to book a visit with your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can handle any pain with over-the-counter pain relievers or a cold compress.
Don’t Ignore an Emergency
You never know when an emergency may happen, so it’s important to know what to do. Swift action can help protect your oral health. Whether replacing a crown, treating a bit tongue, or fixing a broken tooth, your dentist is here to help. Contact your dentist if you or someone else experiences a dental emergency.