Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between dental pain that can wait and a dental issue that requires immediate attention.  Here are general guidelines to help you identify which dental problems may constitute a dental emergency.

If you experience any of the following items, you have a dental emergency on your hands.

You will need to go to your dental professional or another available specialist immediately.

  1. A knocked-out tooth: If you suffer the loss of a tooth through wear and tear or an injury, the time it takes you to get to your dentist could be the difference between losing and saving the tooth.  If you have a tooth knocked out, you need to find the lost tooth and take it with you to the dentist.  If the tooth is clean, you can carefully place it back in the socket and gently hold it in position.  If you are unable to get the tooth back in the socket, place it in a warm glass of milk.  You have the greatest chance of saving the tooth if you are able to get to the dentist within one hour, so getting timely assistance is critical.
  2. A cracked or fractured tooth: Cracked or fractured teeth can be caused by many different things. Untreated cavities can weaken your teeth, allowing a minor impact to cause damage.  A hard hit to the face or mouth can also cause cracks and fractures.  If you have a damaged tooth, you may have corresponding pain, bleeding or sensitivity.  With these scenarios, it is possible to have damaged nerves and blood vessels. Not all cracked or fractured teeth will need immediate attention, but if you suspect you have a damaged tooth it is best to seek treatment as soon as possible.  You will not be able to fix the tooth at home and the longer you take to treat the issue, the worse it can become.
  3. Painful infection or abscess: An abscess is an infection that can become inflamed and incredibly painful.  An abscess can fill with puss and can either be drained or rupture spreading the bacteria.  Because the abscess is bacteria-based, it can cause general sickness including chills and fever.  Pain and swelling are usually good indicators of an existing abscess. If you believe you have developed this type of infection, see your dental professional immediately. This is one of the most dangerous types of dental emergencies.  Treatment will keep the bacteria from spreading and developing into something more serious.  It will also help alleviate any pain associated with the abscess.

Have you ever noticed that things like dental issues tend to happen at the most inconvenient times possible?  If you find yourself with any one of these dental problems at 5 p.m. on a Friday, take heart.

These are examples of dental injuries that requires Dental Professional ASAP:

  1. Broken braces or brackets: While breaking a wire or bracket can be inconvenient, it can also be managed at home until you can get a regular appointment scheduled.  Depending on the break and your discomfort, you may be able to use dental wax to prevent broken wires from poking your gums.
  2. Lost filling or crown: You shouldn’t ignore a lost filling or crown, but if this happens to you there is a temporary solution.  You can clean the lost item and then use an over-the-counter dental cement to reattach it.  If you are experiencing uncontrollable bleeding or pain, seek immediate treatment.  Otherwise, contact your dentist for the next available appointment.
  3. Minor soft tissue injuries where the bleeding can easily be stopped: Some dental injuries are more minor than others. If you suffer an impact to the face and have minor soft tissue damage with minimal bleeding that can be easily stopped, you may be able to hold off on the trip to the emergency room.
  4. Minor, easily managed toothaches: A toothache can be an indicator of other underlying issues, some minor and some severe.  If you have a toothache that can be easily managed with an over-the-counter pain reliever, you don’t need to run to the emergency room.  You do still need to call your dentist and make an appointment.  Don’t let something small develop into a bigger issue unnecessarily.

When you are experiencing a dental emergency, it can be hard to determine the severity of the issue.

Examine your symptoms carefully and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you in danger of losing a tooth?
  • Are you experiencing uncontrollable bleeding?
  • Are there signs of an infection?
  • Is your pain unmanageable?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, seek medical treatment immediately.  If you answered no to all of these questions, call the dental professionals at EVDP and ask for a recommendation.  Every dental issue has the potential to be a serious medical issue.  These questions are guidelines to help assist you.  Even if you are able to answer no to every one of these questions, seek the guidance of a medical professional as soon as possible.  A skilled dental professional may assess your symptoms and recommend immediate treatment for your dental emergency.