Experiencing any kind of emergency can be stressful, but when it comes to dental emergencies, it’s easy to panic and not know who to call.

Fortunately, a good rule of thumb is to reach out to your general dentist. Before you dial that after-hours phone line, though, it’s important to understand what is considered a dental emergency and what you should do before going to the dentist or emergency room.

What is a Dental Emergency?

Understanding what constitutes an emergency is key when it comes to unexpected dental issues. Some dental problems can wait until normal office hours, while true dental emergencies require immediate medical attention.

Tissue Injuries

Tissue injuries include cuts, tears, lacerations, or puncture wounds to the lips, gums, cheeks, or tongue. Minor tissue injuries can wait to be addressed during normal office hours, but more serious injuries are considered dental emergencies. Clean the wound with warm water and put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Get to the dentist or an emergency room quickly to have the injury treated.

Tooth Fracture

If a tooth fracture occurs, gather whatever tooth fragments you can find and put them in a container of milk, saliva, or lukewarm water. Once this is done, contact your general dental office as quickly as possible to try and save the tooth.

Avoid tooth fractures by never using your teeth as tools, wearing a mouth guard during sports, and wearing a nightguard to bed if you grind your teeth.

Permanent Tooth Knocked Out

If a child has had a permanent tooth knocked out, locate the tooth and pick it up by the crown. As stated above, be sure to submerge the entire tooth in a cup of milk or the child’s saliva. If there isn’t much pain, try to reinsert the tooth into its socket and contact your dentist immediately.

The best way to prepare for a fractured, broken, or knocked-out tooth is to make sure that your children wear helmets when riding bikes or scooters, and use mouth guards during sports or other physical activities.

Persistent Toothache

If you have a persistent toothache, there are a few things to try. First, rinse your mouth with warm water and floss thoroughly. Sometimes the pain may be caused by a bit of food lodged between the gum and the teeth. If this isn’t the case, use an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease the symptoms and contact your dentist for an appointment during normal business hours.

To avoid a toothache, the best thing you can do is practice good oral hygiene at home. This means brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and making sure to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and a dental cleaning.

How to Know if You Need Emergency Dental Services

Not every dental situation should be considered an emergency. Here are a few things to consider when you’re deciding if you can wait to be seen by your dentist or if you need to seek emergency dental services:

  • Severe Pain: Severe pain and bleeding are signs of an emergency.
  • Lost Tooth: Fast treatment can potentially save a tooth.
  • Loose Teeth: Adults should never lose teeth. A loose tooth, even without pain, is a serious problem.
  • Infection: An abscess or serious infection in your mouth can be potentially life-threatening, and treatment should not wait. You may notice swelling or knots on your gums or swelling around the face.
  • Bleeding From the Mouth: This is a potential sign of an emergency.

Any dental problem that needs immediate treatment to stop bleeding, alleviate severe pain, or save a tooth is considered an emergency. Additionally, severe dental infections can be life-threatening and require emergency treatment.

If you think you’re experiencing a dental emergency, be sure to contact your general dentist’s after-hours phone line to determine if you need immediate treatment. Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we understand that emergencies happen at the most inconvenient times. That’s why we keep appointments available for dental emergencies. Contact us today to learn how we can restore your smile!