While many aches and pains can plague the teeth and gums throughout our lives, it’s important to know exactly which kinds of injuries warrant emergency dental care. Accidents know no time of the day or night, but wouldn’t we all like to spare ourselves the unnecessary late night trip to the emergency room? Keep reading to find out how to determine which dental emergencies require immediate treatment and which ones can wait until normal clinic/business hours.
Common Types Of Oral Injuries
Some of the most common mouth injuries concern the teeth, whether they are chipped, cracked, broken, or knocked out completely. In addition to sports-related injuries, falls, and other physical accidents, injuries to the mouth and teeth can occur as a result of something as simple as biting down on a piece of hard food. The teeth can also slip, causing a painful rip on the inside cheek. Unless a fall or traumatic blow has occurred, the inside of the mouth, including the lips, cheeks, and teeth, will usually be fine. However, the location of the damaged tooth and the severity of the injury will always be the major factors that determine whether or not you should go to the emergency dental clinic.
Oral Ailments That Are Not Emergencies
Injuries and incidents in the mouth tend to feel more painful than many other areas of the body. The teeth, gums, and tongue are sensitive, and even a light bump can cause a fair amount of pain. However, even when the teeth are infected or plagued by an oral illness, this doesn’t necessarily qualify as an emergency. Cavities, for example, certainly become uncomfortable, but need to be scheduled to be filled during an appointment. The same goes for painful root canals and most crowns and caps, as they need to be molded and shaped first. Emergencies are typically limited to those situations that cause harsh bleeding, exposed nerve endings, and/or leave gaps that are prone to severe infection.
When To Head To The Emergency Clinic
If the break or crack is severe, or if the tooth is knocked out completely, you should certainly seek immediate medical attention. While you are waiting to be transported to the clinic or to see a doctor, try to handle the damaged tooth as little as possible. In the case of a tooth that has been completely knocked out, be careful not to swallow it, instead biting down on a moistened wet piece of gauze and applying light pressure to the tooth atop the socket. If this doesn’t work or is too painful, be sure to rinse the tooth and keep it wet (with saliva) in a container until your dental professional can see you. A cold wet compress should always be applied to any bleeding socket.
What If I Can’t Be Sure If It’s An Emergency?
Sometimes, dental emergencies won’t be as clear cut as, say, a completely broken tooth. Oral injuries are painful and it can often be difficult to distinguish extreme pain from extreme danger. If you believe that you require emergency care, call a dentist first. The office should be able to work through the situation and advise you accordingly. If the accident/incident does occur during normal business hours, your dentist might also have an opening, so that you don’t need to go to an emergency clinic. When this isn’t an option or if it has been exhausted, head to the nearest emergency room. ER staff are trained in deciphering between dental emergencies and pains that can wait for an appointment. In these cases, topic oral pain medication or over-the-counter treatments can be used to make yourself comfortable until you can see a dentist.
However, who doesn’t want to perfect and protect their smiles? When in doubt, our trained dental professionals are here to help you out. Give us a call at (480) 893-7733 in the Ahwatukee area, or (602) 595-3600 in the central Phoenix area.