Emergency Dental Care

Don’t think that you’re not having a dental emergency because you’re not hemorrhaging from the mouth or haven’t lost a tooth. A dental emergency is any undiagnosed or unplanned need for dental treatment. Dental emergencies can cause a lot of pain, discomfort, and swelling, and can even lead to more significant issues down the road. So, what is considered a dental emergency and when should you see the dentist right away?

Types of Dental Emergencies

Are you in severe pain? 

Mouth pain is not normal and can be the sign of an infection or exposed nerves. If you’re experiencing pain that won’t subside, you should have that toothache checked out. Don’t put off the pain hoping that it will go away. Typically, dental pain will only get worse and the longer you wait the less likely we’ll be able to save the tooth. While waiting for an appointment, try applying a cold compress, rinsing with salt water, or using over-the-counter pain medication to alleviate discomfort.

Has physical trauma caused you to lose a tooth or have loose teeth? 

Immediate intervention with a lost or loose tooth could potentially save that tooth. If your tooth is knocked out and you’re able to recover it, gently handle it by touching the crown, the white portion of the tooth, without touching the tooth root.

If the tooth is dirty, gently and briefly rinse the tooth with water while holding the crown. If able, reimplant the tooth immediately, making sure the tooth is in the proper orientation. If unable to reimplant the tooth, place it in one of the following mediums; pasteurized milk, saliva, egg whites or Hanks Saline Solution. Saliva is meant to be used as a short term medium less than 1hr and should be transferred to a better medium. Pasteurized milk, egg whites and Hanks Saline Solution, or Save a Tooth are better long term solutions to store the avulsed tooth. The tooth has the best chance of success if reimplanted within 1 hour. 

Do you have an infection? 

Pain and swelling could indicate an infection or abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus that has formed in or around your tooth and could cause a fever, sensitivity to hot and cold (in the mouth), persistent toothache, tender lymph nodes in your neck, swelling in the face, and possibly a pimple-like bump of your gum near the infected tooth. If you experience any combination of these symptoms call your dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Postponing treatment could lead to the infection spreading to other areas of the body.

Are you bleeding from the mouth? 

We’re not talking about a little bit of blood when you brush or floss.  If your gums won’t stop bleeding, especially after an extraction, you should seek emergency dental treatment. It is not normal to experience bleeding gums without any obvious cause.

Did you lose a crown or filling? 

When a filling or crown breaks or falls out, your remaining tooth is more likely to break or chip (fracture) without that reinforcement. You may also have exposed nerves which could be damaged or become infected requiring root canal treatment. It’s best to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to protect the tooth from further damage. In the case of the crown that has fallen out and is not broken, try to reinsert it using (using a thin layer of) denture adhesive or toothpaste until you can see the dentist to recement it. Practice placing it in the proper orientation before placing the temporary adhesive materials.

If you think you’re experiencing a dental emergency. Give our office a call at 301-663-8300 to get on the schedule as soon as possible. If your emergency is after hours, follow the prompts on our voicemail and you’ll be connected directly to one of our dentists. They will be able to provide you with at-home palliative care instructions, have a prescription sent to your pharmacy, or refer you to the emergency room.

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