Having a dental problem is a problem in itself. But experiencing it at a time when you can’t conveniently drive to your dentist’s office? Sort of nightmarish—especially if you’re in a lot of pain, bleeding, or both. It could be because you had an accident that damaged your teeth, or something’s wrong and you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know it’s in your mouth.
Going through something like that during a weekend, late at night, or during a holiday in a place where you can’t reach yours or any dentist isn’t exactly ideal.
Most of the time, toothaches can be caused by injury, dental infection, decay, or loss of a tooth. But there are times when the side effects don’t require immediate medical attention.
How can you know if it’s a dental emergency?
Understanding the importance of what’s a dental emergency and what isn’t will help you avail the right type of care your issue requires. The loss of a line between what constitutes an emergency and what doesn’t can lead to under and over-treatment of the dental problem, which ultimately poses more problems for your oral health.
Dental emergencies are common problems among anyone that has a set of teeth—even for those who don’t. One can get random spikes of pain from eating something too cold or too hot, from chewing on something hard, or when blunt force hits the area of the mouth.
But that doesn’t mean that any type of pain you feel orally should warrant a run to the dentist or to the emergency room. Before you do anything drastic and escalate the problem into something more of a serious medical case, ask yourself these questions:
Are you in extreme pain?
If yes, it is an emergency. Your situation, especially when accompanied by bleeding, should be addressed by a professional immediately.
Did you lose a tooth or more?
If you did, you should go to the dentist immediately. Why? The efficient treatment has the potential of saving your lost tooth.
Are one or more of your teeth loose?
As adults, it’s uncommon to have loose teeth—except for when the loss is caused by an accident. This means that when you notice that your teeth are loose, you should immediately get medical attention because it poses several risks for you as a grown-up, unlike with children.
Are you aware of any infection in your body?
If you notice an abscess or any visible infection inside your mouth, be sure to contact your dentist right away. It can be life-threatening if you leave it alone, and treatment should be administered as soon as possible. Another symptom of an infection is swelling or knots on your gums and around your face.
Is your mouth bleeding?
The bleeding may be caused by trauma, and you should run to a professional for help as soon as you can, especially if the bleeding is severe.
Generally, dental emergencies that involve a lot of blood coming out of your mouth warrants a drive to the ER or the dentist. If you act at the right time, you can potentially save a lost tooth. Acting too late can lead to life-threatening situations—with an emphasis on infections.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should call your dentist immediately and describe what happened in good detail, so they can help you. In case they’re not available, you may need to pay a visit to an emergency dentist or the emergency room.
What isn’t a dental emergency?
Now that you’re aware of when you need to ask for immediate medical attention when it comes to situations involving your oral health, here’s a guide on what isn’t considered a dental emergency and ones that don’t need you to reach your dentist out of business hours or rush to the emergency room.
A chipped or cracked tooth
A chipped or cracked tooth can be waited on especially if they aren’t painful and didn’t leave sharp fragments inside your mouth that can cause bleeding. But if the said tooth is giving you a lot of pain and making you bleed, it’s an emergency.
If the ache isn’t severe and doesn’t produce abscesses and swelling, you can wait for your dentist to address it professionally.
Lost crown or filling
This situation can wait for proper attention from your dentist. Temporarily, you can attempt to put the lost crown back using over-the-counter dental cement but avoid using glue—they can be toxic.