It’s usually clear when you need to seek emergency medical help. Your body tells you so. It’s not quite as easy when it comes to dental health. Your tooth has an ache, your gum’s a little sore, and you might ask, “what is a dental emergency?”
Recognizing that every practice and every person is different, there’s usually a good rule of thumb to follow: Anytime you are in pain, it’s time to consider placing the call. Know the difference between what is a dental emergency — and what isn’t – is much more important now, in the age of COVID-19, when we’re all collectively looking to limit social interactions.
What is a Dental Emergency?
No one likes having to go to the dentist. But sometimes avoiding a visit can work against you. Something that starts as a small problem can grow into something more serious. So, then, what is a dental emergency? Here are some situations that probably need help right away:
- A broken or knocked-out tooth
- Braces adjustment of loose wires
- Painful swelling in your gums and around your mouth
- Tooth or jaw pain
- Dentures that need adjusting
Probably the most challenging situation in answering “what is a dental emergency?” involves the standard toothache. For certain, toothache pain or sensitivity to hot or cold are signals. But they aren’t always a reason to run to the dentist. It may be a simple cavity. Consider other symptoms such as swelling when evaluating a toothache.
In the unfortunate case, you experience a severe injury, you can help yourself towards a better outcome, according to the American Dental Association. For instance, if you’ve had a tooth knocked, the ADA advises keeping the tooth moist. If possible, gently push the tooth back into the slot from where it came, but don’t push too hard.
In the alternative, you can keep it between your cheek and gums or hold it in milk. Keeping it moist improves the chances of a smooth repair. In the case of a cracked tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to clear out bacteria or other debris. If you feel swelling, apply a cold compress. Do the same thing to pre-treat a situation where you’ve bitten your lip or cheek.
By taking these various steps, you can increase the possibility of a quick return to health. And you’ll also have a better understanding of how to decide what is a dental emergency.
Dental Emergencies by the Numbers
Asking the question “what is a dental emergency” makes good practical sense. Dental emergencies, and how they are addressed, are a significant factor in controlling health care costs. Studies show that a large number of people, perhaps as many as 800,000, visit the emergency room each year for help with dental problems of one form or another.
Typically, emergency rooms only have the capability of providing short-term dental relief. A patient is still likely to have to visit a dentist for care, making the dental emergency more expensive than it needs to be.
When to Call
Dental issues can range from the minor to the very serious. Some can wait for the next appointment; others need attention right away. You might find yourself asking the question, “what is a dental emergency?” Whenever you’re in pain, give us a call. The dental professionals at Lovett Splendid Atascocita have the experience to address the issues you’re facing. Our team is skilled in emergency dentistry from a toothache to abscess and beyond. We also serve you general dentistry needs, such as professional teeth cleaning, fillings and sealants, and dental crowns and bridges. Regular visits to the dentists can lower the risk of problems later in life. Contact us at 832.430.7652 for an appointment today.