What To Do in a Dental Emergency

Dental EmergencyHaving a dental emergency? Do not panic. Most dental emergencies are nowhere near the severity of other medical emergencies. In most cases, it is the potential of extreme pain that is the issue, not health.  In fact, emergency rooms in the U.S. saw an alarming number of patients for dental pain from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010. Many were suffering from dental decay that could have been prevented, according to the American Dental Association.

Types of dental injuries

Common dental injuries include a knocked out tooth, a cracked tooth, a toothache, or a bite through the mouth or lip. All of these can be emergency situations depending on their severity level. For example, if a patient cracks his or her tooth but it is small and does not really hurt, then the patient can probably wait a day to go to the Dentist. However, if the patient cracks a significant portion of the tooth and it is aching, then going to the emergency room is vital to the patient's health.

We all know trips to the emergency can be helpful but very expensive. Thus, it is important to know which tooth injuries constitute as dental emergencies and which can wait for a regular dentist during office hours. Many associate a broken tooth with a dental emergency although it actually depends on the location of the tooth and how much is broken for it to be worth an emergency room trip.

Measuring the state of the emergency

So how does one know if the injury is an emergency case? Some questions to ask include:

  • Am I in severe pain?
  • Have I lost any teeth?
  • Am I bleeding from the mouth?
  • Do I have swelling or bulges on my facial area?

Answering yes to any of these questions is a good indication that the patient may have an emergency on his or her hands. The reality is that dental emergencies can happen at any time and the best thing one can do is be prepared and aware. Make sure to always have a small dental kit on hand with a dentist's information, gauze, and Acetaminophen.

What you can do

If someone is experiencing a dental emergency and is not sure what to do, here are some steps one can take at home before going to the emergency room:

  • Put any knocked out teeth into a glass of milk until you get to the ER
  • Floss around tooth that is in pain
  • Use cold compress to reduce swelling
  • Use salt and warm water as mouthwash to relieve irritation
  • Swish with hydrogen peroxide to eliminate bacteria

Although dental injuries are common, there are ways to prevent one from having to go the emergency room. Always remember to wear a mouthguard for physical activities that involve physical contact with another person. Patients must also realize that a normal Emergency Room will not treat the actual condition but only triage the wounds. If a patient has a dental emergency, it is crucial to contact a dentist as soon as possible.

The most important thing to know: for all dental emergencies, things usually get worse the longer you delay dealing with the problem. And more expensive. If you're in too much pain to think straight, get a friend or family member to help you make a dental appointment and take the right steps to get out of pain until you can see the dentist.

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