We all know accidents can happen at any moment—even when you’re simply relaxing at home. It’s important to understand the types of concerns that need emergency care and which ones you can handle on your own. When it comes to your oral health, an emergency is often when treatment is needed to save a tooth, stop bleeding or lessen severe pain.
It can wait.
- Routine exams and cleanings – You should keep up with your regular dental appointments, but they are considered preventive and non-emergency.
- A child’s baby tooth is knocked out – Apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding, but don’t try to put the tooth back in the socket (you don’t need to save a primary tooth).
- Minor toothache – While you may eventually need to visit the dentist, a minor toothache can usually be resolved with a cold compress and pain reliever.
- Cavities – It’s important to take care of cavities before they get worse; however, they are not considered an emergency.
Keep calm and call your dentist.
- A crown falls off – You don’t need to rush to the dentist, but you should give them a call. A broken or missing crown can lead to sensitivity and other issues.
- Denture adjustments – Give your dentist a call right away if your dentures stop functioning properly. For some, dentures are essential for eating, speaking and going about everyday life.
- Orthodontic issues – If you have braces and break a wire or bracket, place dental wax on sharp edges and call your dentist.
- Dental treatment before a critical medical procedure – Dental appointments that are required for an upcoming critical medical procedure are considered essential and should be kept.
Emergency treatment needed.
- Uncontrolled bleeding – If you are bleeding excessively from your lips, tongue or mouth tissues, head to your dental office, visit urgent care or go to the emergency room.
- Severe pain in your mouth – This could be a sign of an abscess or infection, which may be life-threatening. Call your dentist and get in for a check-up.
- Swelling in your mouth – Swelling in the mouth that has the potential to block airways is considered an emergency. It could also be a sign of infection.
- Mouth or facial trauma – If there is trauma to the face that may compromise airways, it is an emergency and should be treated immediately.
- A knocked out permanent tooth – Get to the dentist as soon as possible and try to preserve the tooth. Don’t touch the root but try putting it back in the socket. If you can’t, put the tooth in milk or water until you get to the dentist.
Emergencies often occur when we least expect them to. The best way to prepare for a dental emergency is to plan. Try to stock up on oral health essentials, like gauze, clean cloths, dental wax and pain reliever. And ensure you have your dentist’s after-hours contact information handy, in case you ever need it.
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