An oral health problem can arise at any time. But what should you do when you first experience a mouth injury or tooth pain? Should you immediately head to your dentist, or can you safely care for yourself at home and then visit the dentist at a more convenient time? The answer to that question depends on the nature of your problem. Let’s discuss how you can judge the urgency of your dental emergency.
Emergencies that Require Immediate Care
In general, urgent care is necessary if you are suffering from significant oral pain, are experiencing uncontrolled oral bleeding, or have a badly damaged tooth. In such situations, delaying care gives the problem an opportunity to worsen and could have serious consequences for your long-term oral health. Here are some examples of dental emergencies that mean you should make a beeline for your dentist’s office:
- Severe toothache. A severe toothache may indicate an infection inside a tooth or severe dental decay. It might be possible for your dentist to repair the tooth with a crown or filling, but root canal therapy is the best treatment in some cases.
- Gum abscess. If you see a pimple-like bump on your gums, you likely have a serious infection. It will not heal on its own. You may need gum disease therapy or even a tooth extraction.
- Loose teeth. Loose teeth may be an indication of advanced gum disease, oral trauma, or a number of other serious oral health conditions. Your emergency dentist will quickly determine the cause of the problem and recommend a treatment.
- Knocked-out tooth. If you do not receive professional dental care within an hour of so of getting your tooth knocked out, it may not be possible to splint it back into place.
- Cracked, broken, or chipped tooth. It is important that you see your dentist so they can assess the extent of the damage and get to work on repairing the tooth ASAP.
Less Urgent Dental Emergencies
For non-urgent dental emergencies, you can safely wait a few days before you receive treatment. The following situations generally qualify fall into this category:
- Lost restoration. It is important that you be careful to protect your tooth until your dentist can replace your lost crown, filling, or other type of restoration.
- Something stuck between the teeth. You might be able to dislodge the object with some dental floss. If that is not possible, your dentist is ready to help.
- Dull toothache. Monitor your pain level. If it becomes worse or persists for more than a couple of days, call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Still not sure if your situation is an urgent or not so urgent dental emergency? The safe course of action is to call your dentist, describe the situation, and ask for guidance. They will tell you what your next steps should be so you can act appropriately to protect your smile’s well-being.
About Our Dentists
Drs. James and Jenna Feigenbaum are a father-daughter dental team who serve residents of Creve Coeur and the greater St. Louis area. They are both graduates of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. They provide a broad range of services and are always ready to leap into action to help patients who require urgent dental care. To learn more about them or our practice, contact our team at 314-567-1777.