If you’ve ever experienced a dental emergency, then you know that they are never fun! Unfortunately, painful dental issues can often happen when your dentist’s office is closed – which makes the situation scary, as well as painful.
When You’re Experiencing a Dental Emergency, You Wonder…
- Do you head to the hospital, urgent care, or an emergency dentist you don’t know?
- Are there dentists in the ER?
- What is or isn’t considered a dental emergency?
- Is a toothache considered a dental emergency?
- What painful dental issue could truly harm your health or cost you a tooth?
- Do you really need to take a trip to the ER or find an emergency dentist?
- How am I going to pay for this? Will an emergency dentist near me take my dental insurance?
- What can you do at home to relieve severe dental pain?
First things first…Call a Houston Emergency Dentist Near You
When you experience a dental emergency, you should definitely call your dentist first. (Our phone number is 713-497-1499) Even if the dental clinic is closed, you should be able to find a way to talk to someone to.
And most dentists set aside time for emergency dental care procedures. (We do!)
So, How to Know if it’s a True Dental Emergency?
The general rule to determine dental emergencies is:
Need an Appointment ASAP?
Still Unsure if You’re Having a True Dental Emergency?
Answer the following questions to see if you should visit an emergency dentist near you:
- Are you bleeding from the mouth?
- Are you in severe pain?
- Do you have any loose teeth or did you lose a tooth?
- Have you been hit in the face or mouth?
- Do you have any swelling in the mouth or facial area?
- Do you have any bulges, swelling or knots on your gums?
- Are you experiencing extreme pain in a tooth when biting down?
- Do you have an infection? An abscess or serious infection in your mouth can be potentially life-threatening, and treatment should not wait.
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you may be experiencing a dental emergency! Call your dentist immediately. Be sure to clearly describe exactly what you’re experiencing and what you are feeling. (Our phone number is 713-497-1499)
Be Sure to Stay Calm During a Dental Emergency
It’s important you stay calm when you’re in crisis. When you’re anxious, your body triggers a number of chemical responses which can unfortunately make your pain feel worst.
When Should You Visit an Emergency Dentist or an Emergency Room (ER) for a Dental Emergency?
1. Knocked-Out Tooth
The American Association of Endodontists reports that if you respond quickly after a tooth has been knocked out, your dentist might be able to reinsert and save your tooth. Here are a few quick first aid tips for a knocked out tooth:
- Be sure to carefully pick up the tooth by the crown or the top.
- Do not touch the root.
- Gently rinse it. Do not scrub it.
- Oh, and be sure to place a towel or washcloth in the sink so that your tooth won’t go down the drain.
- If you can’t carefully place the tooth back in the socket, then place the tooth in in a cup of milk and bring to an emergency dentist.
2. Cracked, Fractured or Chipped Teeth
If a tooth is chipped and doesn’t hurt, then it’s not a dental emergency. But you should be careful when you chew, so you don’t chip it more. A painful cracked or fractured tooth is a serious dental issue which calls for emergency dental care to fix. It might mean that you have damage both inside of the tooth as well as to the outside. For highly painful or advanced fractures, take time to clean your mouth with warm water. Apply a cold compress to try to reduce the swelling. You can take acetaminophen for pain. Never apply a painkiller or numbing gel (not even Orajel) to the gum because it can burn the gum tissue.
3. Abscessed Tooth
A dental abscess is a highly life-threatening condition. This means that you have pus in the tooth which is normally caused by bacterial infection – which can dangerously spread to your jaw, surrounding tissue, and other areas in the body.
You might experience
- tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
- a persistent toothache
- tender lymph nodes in your neck
- swelling in the face
- a pimple-like bump on your gums near the infected tooth
You should rinse your mouth with mild salt water several times to reduce the pain and draw the pus to the surface.
4. Trauma to the Face, Tissue Injury, or Facial Pain
It’s a dentist emergency if you’ve been punched or hit in the face and are experiencing severe swelling, cuts inside or around your mouth, or a broken jaw. In particular, any type of injury inside the mouth (puncture wounds, lacerations and tears to the lips, cheeks, mouth and tongue) are considered tissue injuries and thereby a dental emergency.
It’s essential you clean the damaged area right away with warm water. If the bleeding is coming from your tongue, gently pull your tongue forward then place soft pressure on the wound with some gauze. Then quickly get yourself to an oral surgeon or hospital emergency room! You can take acetaminophen.
Important Warning: Never take aspirin or ibuprofen for a dental emergency! They are “anticoagulants,” and can cause excessive bleeding.
5. Loose Tooth or a Tooth Out of Alignment
You should call your dentist for an emergency appointment if you have a tooth that is loose or out of alignment.
We started out by listing what does qualify as an urgent dental emergency. Just in case you still have any doubts, here is what is not an urgent dental emergency?
The following are examples of non-urgent dental emergencies:
- A chipped or broken tooth – which does not hurt you.
- A dull toothache – as long as the pain is not severe and you do not have symptoms of an abscess such as swelling of the face, bumps on the gums, or a high fever.
- Lost Filling, Crown, or Bridge
- Damaged Retainer or Night Guard
- Food lodged between teeth
- Mild tooth sensitivity
You should still call your Houston dentist as soon as possible, even with a non-urgent dental emergency. After all, you never know if something could be brewing beneath the surface of what you’re experiencing. And so you should take extra precautionary care of yourself.
Disadvantages of going to ER vs. Seeing a Dentist for Emergencies
If you need emergency dental care and go to the Emergency Room (ER), you’ll probably find doctors (not dentists) in the ER who will treat you – then bill your health insurance – in big time wildly expensive way. By coming to Antoine Dental, we can use your dental insurance to reduce the financial burden during this especially stressful time. Don’t worry, if you don’t have dental insurance, we can still work with you on an affordable payment plan to make sure your emergency dental needs are taken care of the way they deserve to be.
It is also very hard to find an emergency room with a dentist on staff.
As a result, emergency room doctors can’t do much for you – besides give you antibiotics and/or painkillers.
Basically, ER doctors are not able to treat many dental problems, unless it is a life or death health emergency. Instead they’ll simply do what that they can to help relieve your pain, until you can see a dentist for your emergency.
Doctors in the ER might give you some quickly relief, but you will still need to see a dentist to fix the dental problem.
Home Treatment for Dental Issues to Temporarily Remedy the Pain
- Lost a filling? Stick a piece of sugar-free gum into the cavity area.
- Something stuck in your teeth? Brush and floss to remove food fragments. Rinse with warm water.
- Feeling extreme pain with hot or warm foods or beverages? Try drinking ice water.
- Sensitivity to cold? Avoid cold foods and beverages. Breathe through your nose. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of boiling water. Swish your mouth with it.
- Experiencing swelling? Use a cold compress to help reduce the swelling.
- Think you have a tooth infection? Swish with Hydrogen Peroxide.
How to Prevent and Avoid Dental Emergencies
One trip to the emergency room could cost you as much money as many years of scheduled dental appointments.
If you’ve spent that kind of money going to ER for a single dental emergency visit, you’re probably thinking: Never again!
After a painful and expensive dental experience, you’re probably highly eager to do what you can to prevent dental emergencies from happening – ever again.
So how do you protect yourself from a dental emergency?
You need to practice good preventive dental care – which our Houston Dental Office is known for.
Preventative dental care is a smart investment against further costly and painful dental emergencies.
At our Houston dental office we recommend that you get dental check ups regularly. And we encourage you to be sure to keep your appointments. Do not cancel. You will be glad you went. Because with good oral hygiene practices, you will be less likely to endure painful and unexpected teeth issues in the future.
Other Tips for Preventing Dental Emergencies:
- Get your teeth professionally cleaned once a month or so – to protect yourself against periodontal disease (gum disease). If you have gum disease, you’ll need extra oral hygiene maintenance.
- Be sure to finish whatever dental treatment(s) your dentist recommends. Dental issues only get worse with time. So do not put off that root canal, tooth implant, filling, crown, etc!
- Brush and floss twice daily.
- Avoid hard or chewy foods like almonds, pretzels, and chewy candies.
- Wear a mouth guard when doing sports activities to protect your teeth.
- If you are planning to travel out of your area for a long period of time, see your dentist for a routine check up before you leave.
Basically, the best way to prevent dental emergencies is to do preventive dentistry so you maintain healthy oral hygiene. When you come in for your next dental cleaning appointment, ask your dentist what more you can do to reduce your chances of a dental emergency.
Our Houston Dental Office is known for our preventive dental practices and we are ready to help you at a moment’s notice with your emergency dentistry needs. Please give us a call today at 713-497-1499 to explore how we can help you to maintain your best oral hygiene, so you’re less likely to ever experience a dental emergency.