What Is a Dental Emergency?

August 18, 2021 Jeffrey T. Baker, DDS PC

Sometimes things happen where you need to see your dentist sooner than your next regular visit. You should call our dentists immediately if you think you need emergency dental attention. In this post, our emergency dentists will address a number of topics from the different kinds of dental emergencies to whether or not to go to the hospital to steps to take in specific situations.

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Are There Different Kinds of Dental Emergencies?

Yes, some dental emergencies are more urgent than others. If you’re experiencing intense pain or have a deep cut in your mouth, then you should call our emergency dentist as soon as possible even if it is outside normal business hours. Examples of urgent dental e mergencies include:

There are other less time-sensitive emergencies that can wait until the next time the dentist’s office opens. However, you still want to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later so the problem doesn’t worsen. Some examples are:

  • Dull toothache
  • Lost filling, crown, bridge
  • A small chip or crack in the tooth
  • Food stuck between teeth 

What Should I Do if My Tooth Gets Knocked Out?

Find your tooth and pick it up by the crown, which is the part you use to chew, and be sure not to touch the root to avoid potentially damaging it. Next, place a towel or washcloth over the drain of the sink because you need to rinse your tooth but you don’t want to lose it. Do not use any soap, scrub, or other chemicals because they can harm your tooth.

If possible, place the tooth back in its socket. If that’s not possible, you want to make sure the tooth is always kept moist. One of the best ways to do this is to keep it in milk (whole milk works best). Do not use tap or bottled water because the root surface cells will eventually swell and burst. 

If there’s no milk readily available you can put it in your mouth either under your tongue or between your lower lip and gums because it will stay the moistest there. Just be sure you don’t accidentally swallow it.

How Can I Stop the Bleeding in My Mouth?

Start by gently rinsing the inside of your mouth with warm water. Then you need to identify what is bleeding. If it is your tongue, gently pull it forward and apply pressure on the cut with gauze. If it is your gums or cheek, apply pressure with gauze. 

Next, have someone call our office since it will be difficult to talk when holding your tongue/applying pressure in your mouth. If you’re experiencing any pain, we recommend taking acetaminophen as directed on the box’s label. Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen because these are anticoagulants and taking them will make you bleed more!

Should I Go to the Hospital for a Dental Emergency?

If you have a life-threatening condition, go to the hospital right now. Problems like a large dental abscess can limit your ability to breathe and swallow. Similarly, if you broke your jaw, you’d need to visit the ER. Serious medical issues like these are best addressed by hospital staff. 

Here are some emergencies you should go to the hospital for:

  • Dislocated or fractured jaw
  • Deep cuts to the mouth and face that won’t stop bleeding
  • A large dental abscess that makes it difficult to breathe or swallow

If you have a toothache or a small chip or crack in tooth don’t visit an ER or urgent care center. These facilities don’t hire dentists and can’t treat the underlying causes of toothaches. Most states ban non-dentists from extracting teeth and performing other dental work. Our dentists will be able to diagnose and treat the source of your dental pain, restoring your oral health.

Schedule an Appointment

Our Shelby Township, MI emergency dentists want to address your dental emergency as soon as possible. To make an appointment, give our office a call at (586) 992-9222.

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