What Is a Dental Emergency?
While any dental situation may warrant a trip to your nearest clinic, not all dental problems necessitate emergency care. According to the American Dental Association, dental emergencies are categorized as potentially life-threatening ailments that require immediate attention from an oral health professional. In these events, urgent dental care treatment is used to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain, and/or treat an oral health infection.
Some common types of dental emergencies include:
- Knocked-out teeth
- Lost fillings or dental crowns
- Abscesses in the gums
- Unbearable and sudden toothaches
- Soft-tissue injuries
These unexpected emergencies can happen at any time, often leading to a higher risk of severe gum bleeding, extreme tooth pain, and even permanent tooth loss. To get proper relief and avoid lasting damage to your smile, it's critical to visit an emergency dentist as soon as you experience symptoms of a dental emergency.
What Are the Symptoms of a Dental Emergency?
Dental emergencies come in a variety of types, symptoms, and severity levels. Whether it's discomfort from broken braces wires or a toothache caused by severe tooth decay, knowing the common symptoms of a dental emergency can help you decide how quickly you need treatment — and from who.
Some tell-tale signs that you need urgent dental restoration from a qualified emergency dentist include:
- Bleeding gums
- Swelling of the gums or face
- Pain that radiates from your mouth to your jaw, neck, or ears
- Sudden tooth loss
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Severe toothaches
- A popping or locked jaw
- Growths or sores in the mouth
- A metal taste in the mouth
When Should You Visit an Emergency Dentist?
There is no dental emergency that does not require a visit with an emergency dentist as soon as you can. Whether you're experiencing swelling, pain, bleeding, or other symptoms of a dental issue, our emergency dentists will conduct the proper exams needed to provide timely treatment that alleviates your suffering.
What Kinds of Dental Emergencies Does Affordable Smiles Treat?
Dental emergencies require urgent solutions. At Affordable Smiles, our team of emergency dentists will work with you to quickly identify the cause of your dental emergency, remove your pain and discomfort, and recommend appropriate treatment options. We're proficient in handling a wide range of emergency dental issues, such as:
- Chipped teeth
- Knocked-out teeth
- Lost fillings
- Lost crowns
- Broken braces
- Soft tissue injuries
If you're experiencing other dental emergencies not listed, we may still be able to provide emergency care that helps you find relief. Contacting our dental clinic is the best way to assess the scope of your emergency and determine the proper treatment.
How Can You Manage Your Dental Emergency Before Your Appointment?
Knowing what to do during a dental emergency can alleviate discomfort as you await a visit with your emergency dentist. To help you manage your dental emergency before your visit to Affordable Smiles, we have provided the following information for your immediate use:
First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Chipped or broken teeth
Save any pieces. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse off the tooth root with water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it’s not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available) or a product containing cell growth medium, such as Save-a-Tooth.
In all cases, see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked-out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
Extruded (partially dislodged) tooth
See your dentist right away. Until you reach your dentist’s office, to relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (like Tylenol or Advil) if needed.
As a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement. See your dentist as soon as possible.
If the crown falls off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can’t get to the dentist right away, slip the crown back over the tooth, if possible. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue.
Broken braces wires
If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue, or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can’t reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or a piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist’s office. Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Loose brackets & bands
Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontist as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call your orthodontist for an appointment to have it re-cemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced).
Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Because of the serious oral health and general health problems that can result from an abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that is usually painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.
Injuries to the soft tissues, which include the tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips, can result in bleeding. To control the bleeding, here’s what to do:
- Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution.
- Use a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes to control bleeding and relieve pain.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop, see your dentist right away or go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen and treated.
What Are the Risks of Not Treating Your Dental Emergency?
Dental emergencies are just as serious as medical concerns that require immediate attention. While it can be tempting to wait out symptoms like pain and swelling, ignoring dental emergencies can lead to consequences for your oral health, such as:
- Prolonged pain
- Bacterial infections
- Damaged tooth nerves
- Permanent tooth damage
Even minor pain, swelling, bruising, or other symptoms should be attended to by our emergency dentists. The more proactive you are in receiving emergency treatment, the less likely your risk of causing significant harm to your smile.
How Can You Avoid Dental Emergencies?
Many times, dental emergencies result from a sudden injury or accident, like getting a tooth knocked out during a sports game. In these unexpected cases, avoiding a dental emergency is nearly inevitable.
However, some dental emergencies can occur without any injury-related oral trauma, such as an abscessed tooth or a toothache. To reduce your risk of a dental dilemma, it's important to take preventative steps that protect your teeth and gums, such as:
- Brushing and flossing regularly to avoid bacterial infections
- Watching what you eat and avoiding foods/drinks that are bad for the teeth
- Taking daily vitamins to keep your teeth and gums healthy
- Scheduling routine dental visits for exams and teeth cleanings
Affordable Emergency Dentists Restoring Your Smile
At Affordable Smiles, we believe that everybody deserves to smile. No matter the nature of your dental emergency, our team of dentists provides quick, low-cost urgent dental care to help you treat your dental emergency and feel confident in your smile.
Request an emergency appointment at any of our Louisiana locations in Mandeville, Metairie, Hammond, Westbank, LA, Baton Rouge, or at our Gulfport, MS office.