People are often hesitant to schedule appointments with an emergency dentist because they’re concerned about incurring added costs. While that’s a fair concern, it can lead patients to forgo necessary care, leaving them with more substantial, and costly, tooth damage later down the line. While it’s fine to put off fixing minor problems like cracked crowns or fillings until normal business hours, provided the patient is not in any pain, it’s always best to seek emergency dental care for the following conditions.
If a tooth gets knocked out, there’s a limited time frame for re-implantation. The faster a patient gets to the dentist, the more likely it is that he or she will be able to keep the tooth.
If an otherwise healthy tooth gets knocked out as a result of acute injury, avoid touching the roots, rinse it gently in clean water, and insert it back into the socket, if possible. If that doesn’t work, submerge the tooth in a small cup of milk and bring it along to the appointment.
Loose teeth can occur as a result of acute injuries or more long-term problems like gum disease. If a tooth becomes loose or gets knocked out of alignment, see a dentist right away. The dentist may need to splint the tooth in its proper position by affixing it temporarily to the adjacent teeth to stabilize it until it heals.
Cracked or Broken Teeth
Minor chips that aren’t causing pain are not dental emergencies. They can wait until normal business hours. However, large chips or painful cracks or fractures should be dealt with immediately, as ordinary activities like chewing could worsen the damage.
Fractured teeth usually sustain more than just topical damage. The dentin beneath the enamel is also affected. In some cases, fractures become so extreme that the affected teeth cannot be saved.
The best way to reduce the chances of needing to have the tooth pulled is to schedule an emergency appointment. The dentist will take X-rays to determine the best course of action. The tooth may need to be treated with a root canal, or might it just need a crown. If the tooth is severely damaged, the dentist will pull it and discuss options for a replacement at a later date.
Minor injuries don’t require immediate care. Soft tissue injuries that cause severe, painful swelling or uncontrolled bleeding, on the other hand, should be treated immediately. The patient may need stitches or antibiotics to reduce the chances of infections.
Infections and Abscesses
Oral infections can be very serious, especially if they lead to abscesses. Seek emergency care immediately, whether from a dentist or a hospital emergency room. Failing to drain the abscess properly and control the infection can leave it to spread to other areas of the body and cause serious health complications.
The Bottom Line
Not all dental problems need to be treated immediately. However, patients should always seek emergency care if they are experiencing extreme pain, uncontrolled bleeding, severe swelling, lose or knocked-out teeth, or other severe symptoms. It makes far more sense to pay for an emergency dental visit than it does to risk more serious complications by putting off necessary care until normal operating hours.