I Have a Dental Emergency. What Should I Do?

For your dental health, it’s important to know what you should do if you ever have an emergency. While you certainly hope that this is something that never happens to you, you never know when the unexpected could occur.

If you experience a dental emergency, it’s important to know your options and what you should do while you wait to get it taken care of. Many dental offices have an emergency line, but you should be able to recognize what constitutes an emergency and what may be able to wait until your dental office reopens.

Take a look at these tips and suggestions to recognize the definition of a dental emergency is and know how to handle the situation should you be faced with one.

What Is a Dental Emergency?
Some things might happen to you that could be incredibly inconvenient and maybe even uncomfortable, but they might not be considered true dental emergencies. It can be challenging to know just what is considered an emergency.

Don’t worry about having to filter through the details and know exactly what is urgent and what is non-urgent. If something comes up, you can contact your dentist’s emergency number and discuss it with them. If it is an issue that could wait until routine office hours, they will let you know and handle the problem accordingly.

Here are some examples of situations that are considered non-urgent emergencies.

  • Chipped tooth
  • Excessive tooth sensitivity
  • A dull toothache
  • Food lodged that you can’t seem to dislodge
  • Broken gear, such as a retainer or night guard
  • Broken or cracked teeth (without extreme pain)
  • Lost fillings, bridges or crowns

Keep in mind that while these items might be considered non-urgent, they shouldn’t be ignored. You still need to seek dental care within a couple of days, but you may not have to visit your dental office at 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday.

If you are experiencing one of these aforementioned items that’s accompanied by extreme or intense pain, it could be an urgent situation that should be seen right away. Don’t be afraid to contact your dentist and discuss your situation with them to know how to proceed.

Now, take a look at these events below to understand situations that are considered urgent emergencies that should be dealt with right away.

  • Loose or knocked-out tooth (not by natural looseness)
  • An injured jaw
  • Toothache causing intense pain that won’t subside
  • Extreme sensitivity of the teeth
  • Painful swelling
  • Incessantly bleeding gums
  • Swelling combined with a toothache

If you are experiencing any of these things, call your dentist right away. These should not be left untreated. If, for some reason, you cannot reach your dentist’s office at the emergency number quickly, you should visit the emergency room for care.

What Should I Do at Home If I Have a Dental Emergency?
You can do certain things at home if you experience a dental emergency. Remember that it is vital that you reach out to your dentist emergency line, but in the meantime, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Most of the time, the most challenging part of a dental emergency is the pain that you might be experiencing. Always try to stay calm as your body will better be able to handle the emergency if you are calm. We know this can be easier said than done, but when you are anxious, it causes your body to trigger additional responses that might increase your emergency situation.

Try some of these options at home to help.

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salty water. This can help reduce swelling and relieve irritation in the mouth. Use warm water to dissolve about 1 teaspoon of salt and rinse. You can rinse several times or regularly.
  • If a tooth is knocked out, try placing the tooth in a glass of milk until you can get to your dentist. This can help preserve the tooth.
  • Try flossing to determine if something is lodged in your teeth or gums. If you are experiencing pain around one tooth, this might be the problem, and flossing may be able to dislodge the item.
  • Try swishing hydrogen peroxide in your mouth for a toothache if you suspect infection could be involved.
    This will kill bacteria and relieve irritation as well. Don’t swallow the peroxide; just swish and rinse.
  • Try taking over-the-counter pain medication to help with pain and discomfort.
  • Create a cold compress and use this to alleviate swelling and irritation and potentially stop any bleeding.

Things to Avoid in a Dental Emergency
Just as there are things you might be able to do to help at home in a dental emergency situation, there are also certain things that you should avoid. Doing these things could make your situation worse or cause more pain or additional issues:

  • Applying heat
  • Touching or scrubbing the affected area
  • Eating extremely hot or extremely cold foods
  • Using steroid creams
  • Try to glue pieces back in or back together on your own
  • Eating hard foods
  • Trying to place a lost filling back in on your own
  • Placing an aspirin or other pain reliever directly on the tooth or gum

If you are experiencing a dental emergency, whether it is considered urgent or non-urgent, you should avoid doing any of these as they will not help and, in some cases, could actually make your dental situation worse.

Final Thoughts
If you have a dental emergency, you shouldn’t wait to contact your dentist. Most offices provide an emergency contact for just such a situation. While you may have to leave a message and wait for a callback, it’s imperative that you address your emergency and get seen as soon as possible.

If you’re looking for a dentist office to serve you for routine care and emergent needs, you can reach our office by phone at 804-206-9448. You may also use our contact form or chat feature directly on our website.

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