Urgent Dental Care: What Is It? When Do You Need It?

A dental emergency is a broad term used to describe an issue involving the teeth and the importance of seeking immediate attention from a professional. It is imperative that you know what types of oral injuries require immediate care and what dental injuries or issues can wait until your dentist office is open again.

Accidents can happen at any time, day or night. Some common types of mouth injuries that might result in a dental emergency include a knocked-out tooth, a loose tooth, a chipped tooth and a cracked or fractured tooth.

Is it a dental emergency?

Ask yourself:

  • Are you bleeding from the mouth?
  • Is the pain severe?
  • Are any teeth loose?
  • Is there any swelling in the mouth or around the face?
  • Are you missing any teeth?

If you can honestly answer yes to any of these questions, it is best to give your dentist a call immediately. You’ll need to be very descriptive and give as many details as possible to your dentist, so he/she can tell you what you’ll need to do next.

Knocked-Out Tooth

If you find yourself with a tooth that has been knocked out, it is a dental emergency that requires urgent attention. There are steps to take to increase the likelihood of the tooth being able to be reinserted and preserved by your dentist.

  • Pick the tooth up by the crown, not the roots.
  • Gently rinse the tooth off, being very careful not to drop it down the drain.
  • If possible, put the tooth back in the socket and hold it in place while you gently bite down.
  • If the tooth cannot be placed back in the socket, keep it in a small container or a cup of milk. Call your dentist immediately and seek attention as soon as possible. If you’ve followed the steps above and get attention immediately, your chances of losing that tooth is slim. The longer you wait, the higher your chance is for losing the tooth.

Loose Tooth

This is also a dental emergency and you should seek attention right away if a tooth becomes loose. You should start by using very light pressure to reposition the tooth back to its original position and bite down to keep it stabilized. If the tooth doesn’t go back into position with ease, don’t force it. The dentist may splint the loose tooth to the neighboring teeth to stabilize it.

Chipped, Cracked, or Fractured Teeth

If a tooth is suddenly chipped, but not causing pain, it isn’t a dental emergency. You should still see your dentist when you can, but no need for urgent attention. Although it isn’t an emergency, you should still be very cautious when chewing to not chip it even worse. A chip in a tooth can usually be fixed by filing it down or adding a filling. On the other hand, cracked or fractured teeth are dental emergencies. These usually mean the damage is coming from inside, out. Fractures can be so extreme that the tooth cannot be saved.

Follow these steps if your tooth becomes fractured or cracked:

  • Contact your dentist immediately
  • Gently rinse your mouth out
  • Take acetaminophen, avoiding aspirin
  • Avoid applying a painkiller to the gum, it can burn the gum tissue.

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