How To Recognize a Dental Emergency

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In the case of a medical emergency, most of us know exactly what to do. Call 911 in a crisis and go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital as soon as possible. What about a dental emergency, though? Do you know what to do? Is that what you should do?

No one wants to anticipate suffering a severe dental emergency, but the only thing worse than facing an emergency is not knowing how to handle one that does arise. Here’s what you need to know about dental emergencies — including how to recognize one and what to do in the unfortunate event that one occurs.

What qualifies as a dental emergency?

Just what amounts to an “emergency” is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. What some might consider an emergency, another might think of as merely urgent or even just a minor nuisance. We’ll set out five clear cases of dental emergencies (and a few things that aren’t usually emergencies), but these are just rules of thumb. Here’s the best advice that trumps all those rules of thumb: Err on the side of getting advice quickly. If you’re not certain that something is an emergency, but are concerned, call an emergency dentist in Yaletown Vancouver. That emergency dentist near you will quickly get the essential information they need and tell you how quickly you should act. When in doubt, err on the side of getting advice quickly.

With that cardinal rule in mind, here are five scenarios that clearly indicate the presence of an emergency that warrants contact an emergency dentist near you as soon as possible:

  • If you have severe pain (as opposed to minor, fleeting or intermittent discomfort)
  • If you have lost a tooth unexpectedly (in, for example, a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall incident, assault or athletic incident). Quick action can even save your tooth.
  • If you’re an adult and your teeth are loose
  • If you have any signs of an infection in your mouth, such as swelling (on your face or neck), a foul-tasting discharge, a foul-smelling discharge or a fever
  • If your mouth is bleeding (more than just the occasional glimpses blood you might see when brushing your teeth or flossing)

What might not be a dental emergency?

Keeping the cardinal rule discussed above in mind, here are some things that are not dental emergencies. That doesn’t mean they’re not urgent. You should contact your regular dentist during regular hours as soon as possible, but not necessarily contact an emergency dentist near you overnight if any of the following things occur:

  • You suffer a chipped or cracked tooth (unless accompanied by pain or any of the above five situations)
  • If you have a minor toothache (unless accompanied by any signs of infection mentioned above)
  • If you’ve lost a crown or filling (especially if you’re able to cover the affected tooth with a piece of chewed and sugar-free gum or temporarily reattach the crown with dental adhesive in the interim)

Do you know if your regular dentist offers emergency treatment? If you’re choosing a new dentist or aren’t sure how to contact your dentist in an emergency overnight or on holidays, that’s something to consider during your search or to ask your dentist’s staff. Once you do find out how to reach an emergency dentist near you, put the relevant telephone number on your fridge or in a medicine cabinet where you can find it quickly. If you really want to be prepared or have children in the house (aka magnets for dental emergencies), make a little kit just in case: put a clean piece of gauze a handkerchief in a small jar with some appropriate over-the-counter pain medication and your emergency dentist’s phone number somewhere you can find it quickly.)

Who knows? Maybe preparing in advance for an emergency will prevent one from popping up. (Fingers crossed!)