You break a leg; you go to the emergency room. They are open 24/7 and can help you.
But what happens when you break a tooth? Or experience severe tooth pain?
If your first reaction is to go to the emergency room, WAIT.
In this blog, we’ll tell you why dental emergency consultations should be your first quest for help.
What is considered a dental emergency?
Let’s start by outlining the most common dental emergencies:
- Knocked-out tooth
- Broken, chipped, or cracked tooth
- Loose adult tooth
- Damaged or lost dental restoration (denture, bridge, crown, filling, etc.)
- Severe tooth pain
- Unusual swelling
- New tooth sensitivity
- Numb tooth
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Dental abscess
- Pain or swelling from gum disease
If you experience a dental problem that’s life-threatening, such as a dislocated jaw or impaired breathing, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
If your problem is not life-threatening, here’s the next step:
Call your dentist for a dental emergency consultation
Even if your dental emergency happens outside your dentist’s business hours, call him or her.
Most dentists have an automated message with instructions on what to do, like calling the dentist’s cell phone.
With a dental emergency consultation, you will get advice from your trusted dentist who addresses your symptoms and the root cause of your problem.
Your dentist may advise you to come in for an appointment ASAP, provide tips on how to relieve your symptoms, or recommend treatments to end the problem once and for all.
Why you should avoid the ER for a dental emergency
Most hospitals do not have dental staff on call and can only treat your symptoms with pain killers or antibiotics.
You will likely still require a dental appointment to treat your emergency correctly.
The American Dental Association… This text opens a new tab to the ADA article… states visits to the ER for dental pain range from $400 to $1,500, whereas the same visit to the dentist costs $90 to $200 on average.
Need we say more?
At-home steps for dental emergencies
In some cases, the first step is to react to your dental emergency and then call your dentist, which is why we have laid out quick steps on what to do in a dental emergency.
Following these steps and acting quickly may be the difference between saving your tooth or losing it. We recommend bookmarking this blog or sharing it on social media so you can always have it on hand – just in case!
What do I do if I knocked out a tooth?
- Grab the tooth by the crown, not the root.
- Rinse it in cold water.
- Try to place the tooth back in the socket (don’t force it), then bite down on a gauze or clean cloth.
- If the tooth doesn’t go back in, then place the tooth in a container of milk (or water if you have no milk).
- Call your dentist ASAP.
What do I do if I break a tooth?
- Save any broken pieces of the tooth.
- Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.
- Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.
- Call your dentist.
The same goes if you chip or crack a tooth.
What do I do if I have something stuck between my teeth?
- Gently floss between your teeth.
- If that doesn’t work, try tying a knot in the floss and gently pull that through.
- Rinse with warm saltwater.
- Call your dentist.
How do I treat a toothache or abscess?
- Try gently flossing, brushing, and rinsing.
- Rinse with a warm saltwater mixture.
- Apply an ice pack to the cheek side of the site.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (do not place it on your gums).
- Call your dentist. Pain is a symptom that something else is wrong.
The last thing you should know!
Most dental emergencies are preventable. These five tips will significantly decrease your chances of experiencing one:
- Maintain an optimal dental hygiene routine.
- Visit your dentist regularly and complete the recommended treatments.
- Don’t use your teeth to open bottles or packages.
- Wear a mouthguard during sports.
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
Need to call an emergency dentist?
At Benca Dentistry, we have two experienced dentists available to help you, Dr. Patricia Benca and Dr. Laura Benca. Our office is located in Tukwila, WA and serves surrounding neighborhoods, including Kent, Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, and Newcastle.