Why You Should Have an Emergency Dentist
Dental emergencies require prompt professional treatment to avoid the danger of irreparable damage. Having an emergency dentist on hand is crucial to get the urgent care you need in the event of a dental crisis. An emergency dentist can provide much-needed short-term relief from acute pain ahead of the more comprehensive, long-term treatment you’re likely to need for a full recovery.
If you find yourself stricken by a dental problem requiring urgent attention, you’re not alone. A study reported in the American Family Physician medical journal published by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) revealed that more than one in five adults had suffered oral pain during the previous six months.
Having an emergency dentist already in place will take a lot of the stress out of a sudden dental crisis. You’ll know exactly where to go rather than having to frantically search around for an emergency dental service at the last minute.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the professional best placed to deal with a dental crisis is your regular dentist, so it makes sense to find out whether your current dental office can take care of you in an urgent situation.
What Is a Dental Emergency?
You can help to avoid a dental emergency by measures such as keeping up a good routine of brushing, flossing, and getting dental exams every six months to ensure your teeth and gums are staying in good condition.
However, you can never guarantee you won’t have a dental emergency. Accidents happen and other unforeseen circumstances may leave you in need of urgent dental care.
You’ll need urgent dental treatment in instances that require immediate:
- Staunching of bleeding.
- Easing of severe pain.
- Action to save a tooth.
- Measures to halt the progress of a severe infection.
If the cause of pain and bleeding is a knocked-out tooth, fast treatment provides the best chance of reinsertion. A loose tooth, even pain-free, can also be a serious problem in adults.
Swelling of your face, a lump on your gums, or a high temperature can indicate an abscess or other serious infection in your mouth that could be potentially life-threatening.
What Isn’t a Dental Emergency?
It’s not always obvious to patients what constitutes a dental emergency. Problems that appear critical at the time can sometimes go without treatment for a day or two, provided you know how you take care of yourself in the meantime.
For instance, a chipped tooth that doesn’t hurt isn’t regarded as an urgent situation, but a cracked tooth is an emergency if it’s very painful or has created sharp fragments that could damage your mouth.
Mild toothache can usually wait for treatment as long as don’t have symptoms of an abscess. Losing a filling or crown isn’t a dental emergency, either.
How an Emergency Dentist Can Help You
Emergency dentists carry out the initial treatment in urgent cases of acute pain, severe infections, and oral injuries.
This may involve:
- Taking out or dressing a damaged tooth.
- Prescribing antibiotics and painkillers.
- Referring you to a specialist.
A good emergency dental service may also be able to advise you on steps you can take to help yourself ahead of your emergency visit.
How Can I Help Myself in a Dental Emergency?
Taking some simple steps can help to get you through a dental crisis until your emergency dentist can see you.
Try not to panic – keep in mind that although your situation may be painful, most dental emergencies don’t pose a serious threat to your health, and prompt professional treatment will avoid the risk of long-term damage.
Measures you can take yourself to lessen the stress of a dental emergency and ease discomfort include:
Knocked-out tooth. Keep the tooth in a cup of milk or lightly salted water. Visiting your emergency dentist within one hour of the accident will give you the best chance for successful reinsertion of your tooth. Take an over-the-counter painkiller and hold an icepack to your face.
Facial swelling. Severe swelling of your face can indicate a serious oral infection. If you have to wait sometime for your emergency appointment, drink plenty of water and avoid lying down.
Tongue injury. Your tongue can sometimes bleed heavily if you accidentally bite down on it. Pack gauze onto the area and put pressure on it.
“It’ll Never Happen to Me!”
Dental emergencies are rare but adopting an “it’ll never happen to me” approach can be misguided. Having an emergency dentist means you won’t have to waste time searching around for an emergency dental service or asking other people for recommendations while your condition gets worse.
The importance of having an emergency dentist on hand is underscored by the WebMD health information platform, which stresses that failing to get prompt treatment in a dental crisis increases the risk of permanent damage.
Many people in a dental emergency end up in the ER. While emergency rooms are skilled in handling general medical issues, they don’t have the equipment or expertise to deal with urgent dental situations. It’s worth noting, though, that if you’ve injured your head or neck as well as sustaining dental trauma, ER should be your first call.
Finding an Emergency Dentist
Having an emergency dentist will give you the peace of mind of knowing you have direct access to urgent care, so it’s advisable to do some research before a dental crisis strikes.
If you wait until you’re in the throes of a dental emergency, the problem of finding an emergency dentist is likely to be compounded by the fact that you’re in pain and on the verge of panic.
The first and obvious place to begin your search for an emergency dentist is the office that looks after your general dental healthcare. If your dentist doesn’t provide an emergency service, ask them to recommend one that does. Online reviews of emergency dentists in your area is another avenue you can explore.
Hopefully, you’ll never need urgent dental treatment, but having an emergency dentist on tap will make it less of an ordeal if you do.