An emergency dental visit can give you vital short-term relief from acute pain in the event of a dental crisis such as an oral infection or injury. Prompt professional treatment can avoid the risk of irreversible damage – maximizing your chances of a full recovery with the comprehensive, longer-term treatment you’re likely to need later.
You can help to safeguard yourself against a dental emergency by making sure your teeth and gums stay in good condition. This entails maintaining a regular routine of brushing and flossing and getting a dental check-up and professional teeth cleaning every six months.
However, you can never guarantee you won’t have a dental crisis. Accidents happen and other unforeseen circumstances may leave you in need of urgent dental care.
A genuine dental emergency results from situations that require immediate treatment to:
In the case of pain and bleeding from a knocked-out tooth, fast treatment will give you the best chance of successful reinsertion of the tooth. A loose tooth, even pain-free, can also be a serious issue in adults.
Facial swelling or a lump on your gums combined with a high temperature can be a sign of an abscess or other serious infection in your mouth that could be potentially life-threatening.
A dental abscess – an infection in the gums or a tooth – can be highly dangerous without prompt treatment, and the pain it causes can be debilitating to the extent of making daily activities impossible.
Symptoms of a dental abscess include:
Depending on the nature of your dental emergency, there may be certain steps you can take to help yourself while waiting to see the dentist.
It’s important to try to keep calm. Bear in mind that although you may be in pain, most dental emergencies don’t pose a serious health risk, and prompt professional treatment will avoid long-term damage.
Measures you can take to lessen discomfort and ease the stress of a dental emergency include:
If you’ve injured your neck or head as well as sustaining dental trauma, ER should be your first port of call.
It’s not always clear to patients whether they’re having a real dental emergency. Issues that may seem to warrant urgent treatment can sometimes wait a day or two, provided you know how you take care of yourself in the meantime.
For example, a chipped tooth that doesn’t hurt isn’t considered an urgent situation, but a cracked tooth is an emergency if it’s very painful or has resulted in sharp fragments that could damage your mouth.
Mild toothache can usually wait for treatment as long as you don’t have symptoms of an abscess. Losing a crown or filling isn’t a dental emergency, either.