What is a dental emergency?
How to know if you need to seek emergency dental care.
You have a dental problem but you aren’t sure if it is an emergency. How do you know if you need to seek dental urgent care? You should seek immediate dental care if you have any of the following:
– Facial swelling, especially under your jaw
– Pain that cannot be controlled by over the counter pain medication
– Uncontrolled bleeding or severe pain from an extraction sight
– An injury that has caused a broken tooth or teeth
– A lost denture tooth or broken front tooth causing an esthetic emergency
– Temporary crown or permanent crown that has come off
Swelling from a dental infection can be dangerous and even deadly. If it is located under the jaw, it can spread to the point of blocking the airway. Swelling over the upper jaw is also dangerous, because infection can spread to the brain. A dentist should be seen as soon as possible to get the infection under control. At the minimum, an antibiotic will be prescribed and the source of the infection will be determined. Treatment options will be discussed and may be preformed if indicated.
Uncontrollable dental pain is also a reason to seek urgent dental care. The source of the pain can be determined, and appropriate prescriptions for pain medications and antibiotics will be given. Local anesthetic can be given for temporary relief, and treatment options will be discussed.
If you had a tooth extracted recently and the area is bleeding, we recommend you first try biting on a tea bag for several minutes. (Not herbal tea, but traditional “black” tea which contains tannic acid). If the bleeding still has not stopped, a dentist should be seen to place sutures and packing to stop the bleeding. You can also seek treatment at a hospital emergency room, especially if you have a known bleeding disorder.
Severe pain a few days after a dental extraction can indicate a dry socket, which means the blood clot and “scab” over the tooth socket has been lost and the area can’t heal properly. The bone may be exposed and even infected. A dentist will numb the area and place medicated packing so that the area can heal. Appropriate prescriptions for pain medication and/or antibiotics will be given.
Injury from a sport accident, fall, etc. can cause broken and loose teeth, and possible jaw fracture. An evaluation of the injury by a dentist should be done as soon as possible. Broken teeth can be repaired, loose teeth can be stabilized, and missing teeth can be temporarily replaced. X-rays can be taken to check the jaws for fracture, and prescriptions can be provided.
A lost denture tooth, broken denture, or broken front tooth may not be a true emergency and certainly isn’t life-threatening, but if you have a social event to attend and want to look your best, an urgent care dentist may be able to help you avoid embarrassment.
Lost temporary crown or permanent crown – an urgent care dentist can put your crown back on to keep your tooth covered and comfortable until you can return to your regular dentist.
Dental 911 is open 365 days a year to help you with your dental emergency. Call us at 303-393-9911 or walk in during our clinic hours, 5-9 pm weeknights and 8am to 5pm Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays. We specialize in after-hours dental care.