Dealing with a dental emergency can be scary, especially if you don’t know what to do. Depending on what happened and the extent of your tooth emergency, there are different things you should do. From immediately after the tooth-damaging event to how to address the tooth emergency long-term, there are various courses of action to take.
The one consistent thing is when you have a tooth emergency, you should see your local dentists as soon as possible.
What Is Considered A Tooth Emergency
First question you need to answer is what qualifies as a tooth emergency. Generally, a toothache isn’t an emergency, though it is a pretty good sign that you need to visit our dentists for a check-up—especially if you missed your last routine cleaning.
In most cases, a tooth emergency is when your tooth has become damaged. Whether the tooth has cracked, chipped, broken, or completely knocked out, those all qualify as a tooth emergency. Also, if you are dealing with extreme tooth pain—i.e., need to take constant over-the-counter painkillers to manage pain—that can also count as a tooth emergency that requires our dentists’ immediate attention.
Where To Go For A Tooth Emergency—Doctor or Dentist
Okay, now that you know what is considered a dental emergency, it is time to determine who you see for your emergency—doctor or dentist.
If your tooth emergency was caused by trauma, you likely need to see a doctor first. For example, say you are in a car accident, and four of your front teeth are broken. You probably have other injuries, so you will need to go to the hospital first to have doctors take care of you.
However, while the doctors are trained to address many of your medical needs, they are not trained to work on your teeth. So, unless there is a dentist or oral surgeon on hand, you will need to visit your dentist after you are discharged from the hospital.
If there is not significant trauma connected with your tooth emergency that may impact the rest of your body, then working with a dentist is the best way to treat your dental emergency.
Different Ways Tooth Emergencies Can Be Addressed
Between the incident that triggered your tooth emergency and your visit to our dentists to deal with your emergency, there are steps you can take to address it.
Cracked, Chipped, Or Broken Tooth
There are many ways to crack, chip, or break a tooth. From crunching down on hard candy to slipping and smacking your teeth against a hard surface, this type of tooth emergency can usually be taken care of quickly by our dentists.
In many cases, cracked, chipped, and broken teeth can be restored with a dental crown or even just a dental filling. But, the longer a tooth emergency is left untreated, the more likely that tooth decay and other complications will set in. So, it is important to address your tooth emergency as soon as possible.
For a knocked-out, intact tooth, you need to act quickly and carefully to have a chance to save your tooth. With quick action, our dentists may be able to place your tooth back and help it take root again.
First, after your tooth has been knocked out, pick it up only by the crown. Avoid touching the roots as you rinse off your tooth gently with lukewarm water. Don’t scrub at your tooth or use anything to clean besides the water.
After the tooth has been rinsed off, place it in a container of milk. If possible, you should place it back in the socket it was knocked out of, but that is not always possible, so instead, you can use milk. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with warm salt water to help flush it out, and keep a cold compress against the area of your face where the tooth was knocked out until you see our dentists.
Extreme Tooth Pain
Beyond a mild toothache that might be caused by something as simple as clenching your teeth too hard, when you are dealing with extreme tooth pain, it is essential to be clear that you need to be seen immediately.
Extreme tooth pain that is barely controlled with over-the-counter pain medicines can be signs that you have an infected tooth, an abscess, or another serious dental issue. Using over-the-counter painkillers, rinsing with warm salt water, and only eating soft foods can help you manage the pain until you can be seen by our dentists.
Cosmetic Dentistry After A Tooth Emergency
Sometimes, after a tooth emergency, cosmetic dentistry is needed to repair your smile completely. Take our example above of the person in a car accident. Those four broken front teeth likely cannot be saved and need to be removed. Once the jaw has healed, our dentists can see what options work best, from dental implants to having a dental bridge placed.
Having your smile impacted after a tooth emergency, especially if it is linked to trauma, can be a painful reminder of something you would rather forget. With cosmetic dentistry, our dentists can work with you to make your smile as good as new.
To make an appointment for a tooth emergency, be sure to tell us about your emergency when you contact us. That way, we can get you in as soon as possible and take care of you and your teeth.