What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

Your mouth is a critically important part of your anatomy, and when something seems wrong it’s scary. Although oral problems often resolve on their own, sometimes you need emergency care. Emergency rooms around the country see more than one million visits related to oral issues each year! 

At Le Dentistry & Associates, our staff, along with our dentists, Dr. Phuong Le and Dr. Uyen Hoang, reserve time to help patients who are experiencing dental emergencies. Here, we explain exactly what constitutes a dental emergency so that you know when to avail yourself of this important service.

When is a problem a dental emergency? 

Emergency dental care is for urgent situations, such as when you’re in extreme pain or you can’t eat or speak. Usually, these situations arise due to injury or infection. 

Typical dental emergencies

If you’re not sure if a situation is actually a dental emergency, the following list may help you decide. These are the most common dental emergencies we see, and what you should do if you find yourself dealing with one of them. 

Injury with bleeding 

Mouth injuries can bleed, and it may seem like an excessive amount of blood. That’s because the blood mixes with your saliva. It’s important for you to stop the bleeding, because it allows your dentist to clearly examine your injury. 

The first thing you should do is rinse your mouth with saltwater. Then apply pressure to your wound, using either a gauze pad or an unused tea bag, for about 20 minutes. Using an ice pack on the outside of your mouth can also help slow the bleeding — and may help ease your pain. 

A chipped or broken tooth 

There are innumerable ways for your teeth to get chipped or broken, and this is a very common dental emergency. A ball to the mouth during practice can chip or break a tooth, as can simply biting down on a piece of hard candy or other hard food. 

If the pulp or root of your tooth is exposed when it cracks or breaks, you’re likely to feel a great deal of pain and be susceptible to infection. This is the main reason that a chipped or broken tooth is a dental emergency. Additionally, delaying treatment raises the risk of losing your tooth. 

When it’s possible, the best thing to do is save the pieces of your tooth if you can. Dr. Le or Dr. Hoang may be able to use those pieces to save your tooth. While you wait for your appointment, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever and use an ice pack to help decrease swelling and ease pain. 

Knocked-out or lose teeth

It’s really scary when your tooth gets knocked out. Even if it’s not completely knocked out but is loosened, it’s natural to be afraid. However, if you remain calm, we may be able to save your tooth. Follow these steps: 

If you can, place your tooth or teeth into the space where it should be and hold it there until you reach our office. If you can’t do that, the next best solution is to put it in a container with milk and bring it with you. 

When dental work is the worry

Fillings and crowns can fall out or become loose with time. If you’ve lost a crown or filling, or realized they are likely to fall out, book an appointment as soon as possible. 

If you realize a crown or filling is coming loose, try to avoid swallowing it. And, if a crown does fall out and you find it, bring it with you. Dr. Le or Dr. Hoang may be able to use it in the repair. 

Denture cream or even a dab of toothpaste can be used to temporarily hold your dental work in place and protect the exposed tooth. Be careful not chew on that side of your mouth. 

Severe toothaches and abscesses

A severe toothache or an abscess can indicate an infection. An abscess, which looks like a small bump on your gum, requires an immediate visit with one of our dentists. The infection could spread. Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater several times throughout the day until you can see Dr. Le or Dr. Hoang. 

If you have a bad toothache, rinse your mouth with warm water, and floss to make sure there’s not any food particles between your teeth causing the pain. Schedule an appointment as soon as you can. 

Want to know more? 

Putting off treatment when you have dental pain can lead to worse problems. Dental emergencies can quickly become dangerous for your overall health without proper treatment. Dr. Le and Dr. Hoang are here to offer you the benefit of their experience and expert knowledge. 

If you’re in the midst of a dental emergency, call us right away and book an appointment.

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