Whether you’re traveling for the holidays and crack a tooth on a shell in the pecan pie or you just wake up in the middle of the night at home with an unbearable toothache, there may be times when you need an emergency dentist.
How do you know if your dental emergency can wait until morning? How do you go about finding help when you’re away from your regular dentist?
Avoid confusion, needless suffering and worsening tooth damage with these three questions.
When does a toothache count as a dental emergency?
Toothaches are very painful, but if you’re away from home or it’s the wee hours of the night, many people will treat the symptoms until they can schedule an appointment. To be on the safe side, it helps to know that these symptoms constitute an emergency:
- Tooth pain that you cannot tolerate
- Tooth pain accompanied by fever and chills, trouble swallowing, or the appearance of pus
- A severe jaw or mouth injury with excessive bleeding
- A broken or completely knocked-out tooth
What are some steps I can try first?
- For a broken tooth, apply a cold compress and call the dentist. In many cases, you will be able to wait until morning.
- If a tooth has been knocked out, rinse the crown (not the root) with water and try to hold the tooth in the socket while someone calls the dentist and you’re on your way to the office. If you can’t manage that, put the tooth in milk and call the dentist and get there as quickly as you can.
- For a toothache, try gently flossing, rinsing with hot salt water or hydrogen peroxide, applying ice, or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. If the pain remains unbearable or worsens, call the emergency dentist.
What if my issue turns out to not be all that serious?
Whether it’s pain relief you need or immediate restorative measures, emergency dentists understand the seriousness of the situation. They will determine from your initial call if your situation warrants an emergency visit. If you’re concerned but not uncomfortable, the dentist will make recommendations about steps you can take and how long you can wait before coming in.
As soon as possible, schedule an appointment with the dentist to get the following concerns fixed, but you probably won’t need an emergency visit for:
- Lost crowns, fillings or bridges
- Cracked tooth that doesn’t hurt
- Broken retainers or mouth gear
Don’t let a dental emergency ruin your holidays. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so make the call if you have any doubt at all. If you need emergency care, your dentist will provide relief. If it turns out you can wait, you’ll have peace of mind about that decision.
About the Author
California Happy Teeth Dentistry’s Dr. Sumity Sharma is big on state-of-the-art technology in dentistry but even bigger on providing compassion and gentleness, especially for anyone suffering from dental pain. Contact usat (408) 946-9494 if you have concerns about after-hours dental issues.