Should You See a Dentist Right Now? How to Know When You Need Emergency Dental Care
Would you know what to do if you knocked out a tooth? What if you have a bad toothache? Do you need to see the dentist right away or should you go to the emergency room? What are warning signs and symptoms you need to be aware of?
In today’s post, you’ll learn when you need to see a dentist right away and what to do if you think you need emergency dental care.
Traumatic tooth damage
Your teeth are incredibly strong, but they’re not invincible. If you suffer an injury that leads to a severely damaged tooth, you’ll need the help of a dentist to relieve pain and repair the damage. A severely damaged tooth is one that:
Has a large piece broken off
Is causing you significant pain
Is loose in its socket
Has been knocked out completely
How do teeth get damaged?
The most common causes of serious tooth damage include:
Biting down on something unexpectedly hard like a walnut shell, piece of bone, or olive pit
Being injured while playing sports like getting hit by an elbow while playing basketball or a baseball
Tripping accidentally or falling off your bicycle and knocking a tooth out
If a tooth is knocked out:
Pick up the tooth by the crown, NOT the root
Rinse it gently with water. Don’t use soap and don’t dry it with a cloth
Gently put the tooth back in its socket
See an emergency dentist as soon as possible – ideally within 1 hour of the injury
Intense mouth pain
Listen to your body. If you have severe, sharp, or pulsing pain in your mouth, you need help from an emergency dentist fast. If your pain continues to escalate or if ibuprofen, cold packs, or a gentle saltwater rinse don’t reduce your pain, contact your emergency dentist for help.
Infection or abscess
An infected tooth left untreated can become abscessed, leading to serious health consequences. Here’s when you need to see an emergency dentist:
Pus or other fluid is draining from your mouth
An area in your mouth is very tender, painful, and/or swollen
You’re running a slight fever
There’s visible redness
These infections can often be treated in the short term with antibiotics, but the source of the infection must be addressed with dental treatment to prevent the infection from returning. Your emergency dentist will be able to help advise you on the best treatment options.
Many people occasionally experience some bleeding when brushing too hard or flossing a sensitive area in their mouth. However, if the bleeding seems like it is unusually heavy or isn’t stopping, contact your emergency dentist.
Try ths: Tea bags
If your mouth or gums are bleeding, try pressing a black tea bag to the affected area. The tannic acid in black tea helps blood clots to form. However, this is not a long-term solution. If the bleeding resumes, see an emergency dentist quickly.
When to call 911 or go to the emergency room
Your emergency dentist can help with urgent dental health issues but if your overall health is at risk, you may need to go to the emergency room or call 911 for assistance. Use your best judgment and if you’ve been in an accident, trust the judgment of those around you. Don’t put off getting immediate medical care if:
You’ve suffered a head injury, especially if you’ve lost consciousness
You’ve been in a car accident
You’re experiencing the worst pain of your life or pain that is above an 8 or 9 on a 10 point pain scale
You have any chronic health problems that might be contributing to the pain in your mouth like immunological disorders, cancer, or other conditions
You have a high fever and chills
You have a serious cut on your tongue or cheek. These areas have many nerves and contain many veins. To prevent long term damage, a doctor may be needed to assess and repair the injury.
When you can wait to see the dentist
You don’t always need an emergency dentist. Many dental health issues can wait for treatment and don’t require an emergency visit to the dentist.
Small chips or cracks that don’t affect speech or eating and aren’t causing pain.
Toothaches caused by hot or cold temperatures or pressure when chewing. Odds are this is a sign of a problem, but it may not require emergency care.
Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing.
You’re experiencing pain that can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication or ice packs.
Your hear a clicking sound in your jaw and are experiencing pain. This is likely a sign of TMJ disorder which is painful, but treatable.
Your crown falls out. If damaged you might need to replace it, but it can often be reattached by your dentist.
If you’re at all worried, call your dentist to be sure you don’t need to be seen right away.
Kids and emergency dentistry
Kids may try to hide their symptoms or compensate (by chewing on one side of the mouth, for example) to avoid having to go to the dentist. If you’re a parent, trust your judgement and don’t be afraid to contact a dentist if you have questions. Be on the lookout if your child:
Takes a tumble from their bike or gets injured when playing sports
Winces when eating or drinking
Loses their appetite unexpectedly
Talks less than normal
Seems tired in the morning (a symptom of pain affecting their sleep quality)
Puts their fingers in their mouth or seems to be fixated on something in their mouth
All of these are non-verbal signs of dental problems that might need attention right away.
Better safe than sorry
At Batchelor Dentistry, we offer emergency dental care. We can see you fast to:
Extract and treat infected teeth
Perform a root canal and relieve painful toothaches
Create a same-day crown
Repair decay with natural-looking bonded restorations
If you need our help, call (540) 432-9992 now to schedule an appointment with an emergency dentist at Batchelor Dentistry in Harrisonburg.