Going out to a nice dinner should be a pleasant experience, but what if you bite into something hard and then feel a tooth crumble? You could also fall on your face and have teeth knocked loose or worse, have them knocked out completely. These situations can leave you with such severe pain that you don’t know if you can make it through the next several hours until you can see your dentist.
If you are like most people, you really aren’t sure what you should do in dental emergency. Should you go to the hospital emergency room, or do you wait until the next business day so you can see your dentist? The answer will depend on the severity of the injury.
Ask the Right Questions
The best place to seek treatment for a dental emergency depends on the kind of emergency that has occurred. However, not all situations should be considered an emergency. In order to figure out whether you should go to the hospital or if you can wait to see your dentist, you need to ask the following questions.
- Has a tooth been lost? Getting treated quickly can sometimes save a tooth.
- Are you in extreme pain? Serious bleeding and pain usually are signs of an emergency.
- Are your teeth loose? A tooth that is loose, even if there is no pain, is a serious problem since adults should never lose their teeth.
- Is there an infection? A serious infection or abscess in your mouth can be life threatening, so you shouldn’t wait for treatment. If you notice knots or swelling in your gums or around your face, you may have an abscess.
- Are you bleeding? Bleeding can potentially mean you have an emergency.
Generally, any dental issue needing immediate attention to stop bleeding, save a tooth, or stop extreme pain is an emergency. This also applies to serious infections that may be life threatening.
When to Go to the Hospital
If you need immediate medical attention, you’ll likely need to skip the dentist and go straight to the hospital. These situations can include dislocated jaws, fractured jaws, severe cuts and lacerations to the mouth or face, and any infections or abscess that are both swollen and are affecting your ability to swallow and breathe. You shouldn’t wait to see your dentist if the situation is life threatening.
When You Can Wait for Your Dentist
Other dental emergencies that aren’t life threatening may still need immediate care. If a tooth breaks, has cracked or has been knocked out (unless it’s from a violent injury or you are bleeding profusely) it should be treated as soon as possible, but it doesn’t require a hospital visit.
While abscess and infections are serious issues, unless they are causing problems breathing or swallowing, they aren’t serious enough for the hospital and can wait for you to see your emergency dentist.
Other Possible Emergencies
If you notice sensitivity to hot or cold foods because of an infection, this most likely isn’t a serious problem. The sensitivity may hurt but is most likely caused by a small amount of decay, loose fillings, or receding gums that are causing small areas of the root to be exposed.
You can try to use toothpaste made for sensitive teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush. If this doesn’t help after a few days, then you should contact your dentist.
Where to Find an Emergency Dentist
No one expects to have a dental emergency, but if you realize you’re having one you should act fast.
At Hamptons Dental in NW Calgary, we help our patients through stressful dental emergencies. If your tooth suddenly falls out or chips, call us right away. We will make every effort to see you as soon as possible – in the meantime, we will tell you over the phone how to manage the situation until you’re able to see our dentists.
If you’ve got an emergency, get in the door as fast as possible!