Understanding Emergency Dentistry

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Understanding Emergency Dentistry

Identifying that an emergency is happening is the all-important first step in getting emergency dental care. It may seem obvious, but many people struggle with recognizing when they have an urgent problem. This post may help.

More than 2 million people visited emergency departments for dental emergencies in 2018. The most common reasons were loss of a tooth, diseases of the pulp and gum tissues, and cavities. 

Solomon Family Dentistry with offices in Summerville and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, provides emergency dental care, and we think you’re better served by seeing a dentist in a dental office than by going to an emergency department if you have a dental emergency. But, we also know that sometimes it’s difficult to recognize when you’re actually dealing with an urgent situation. 

The obvious

If you’re involved in some kind of accident that results in a tooth or teeth being knocked out, you’re certainly dealing with an emergency situation. In many cases, your natural tooth can be saved by following a few simple steps: 

  • Retrieve the tooth, if possible
  • Don’t touch the root
  • Put it either in the socket, in your cheek, or in a glass of milk
  • Use gauze to staunch the bleeding if necessary
  • Call our office and let us know you’re on the way
  • Get to our office within an hour

Similarly, a tooth that is partially dislodged or clearly cracked is an emergency situation.

Diseased gum tissue

If you have an infection in the pulp of one or more teeth, it can become a serious problem suddenly. For example, if your gums are discolored, your jaw is swollen, or you experience extreme pain when you bite down, you may have an infection deep in your tooth. 

When such infections are left untreated, they can spread to other parts of your body, or even affect your heart. Plus, you can’t eat, which is also a problem.

Under ideal circumstances, you see us regularly and such infections don’t have a chance to develop. But, if you do find yourself with symptoms of an abscess or serious infection, call us because it is a dental emergency. 

Fillings, crowns, and braces

Losing a filling or a crown can be an emergency. If you lose a filling, put a piece of sugarless gum in the cavity, or use an over-the-counter dental cement. If you’re in great pain and it’s after hours, call us about an emergency appointment. Otherwise, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Similarly, a lost crown can be an urgent situation. You can use clove oil, available over-the-counter, to help with pain. If possible, coat the inside of the crown with dental cement, denture adhesive, or toothpaste, then place it over the tooth. If you can’t do that, just bring the crown with you to your appointment.

Broken or loose braces, brackets, or wires can be urgent, particularly if the broken pieces are poking you. You can use a piece of gum or a bit of a pencil eraser to protect your mouth from a broken wire. Never cut the wire!

This isn’t a comprehensive list of dental emergencies, but does represent some of the most common scenarios that bring people to us for emergency care. If you suspect you’re experiencing a dental emergency, you can always call us or even walk in at your local branch of our office. 

Solomon Family Dentistry