The American Dental Association reports that more than 2 million people visit emergency departments each year due to dental problems. It’s easy to understand why you might consider the emergency department in an emergency. Unfortunately, few hospitals have dentists on their emergency staffs.
Sometimes, it’s hard to know exactly what constitutes an emergency when it comes to your oral health, which can result in a rush to the ER when it becomes obvious. At Santa Monica Bay Dental in Santa Monica, California, our team of doctors reserves time to treat dental emergencies, and encourages our patients to come to us when they need care fast.
To help you know when you need emergency dental care, we’ve put together this list of five signs of a dental emergency.
1. You’ve experienced trauma
Whether you get hit in the mouth by a foul ball, trip and fall and hit your mouth, you’re involved in an auto accident, or something else, trauma that involves your mouth is an emergency situation. Even if you haven’t had a tooth knocked out, if your tongue or gums are cut or your mouth is otherwise injured from a sudden forceful impact, you need emergency dental care.
If the trauma knocks out one or more of your teeth, find the tooth if you can, and don’t touch the root. Rinse it gently if necessary. If you can place it back in the socket. If you can’t do that, put it in a small glass of milk.
In some cases, quick care can result in your tooth being put back in, so call us immediately, and bring your tooth when you come.
2. A tooth is cracked or broken
A cracked or broken tooth can leave a jagged edge, which can cause damage to your cheeks, tongue, or gums. It can also expose the sensitive dentin beneath your enamel, and allow bacteria to enter, or be very painful.
3. A filling or crown breaks or moves
Like a cracked or broken tooth, if your fillings or crowns are dislodged, you’re far more vulnerable to infection, and you may experience significant pain. If you lose a filling or crown, you need dental care quickly.
4. An abscess
If you have a bump that looks like a pimple or a boil on your gums and it’s painful, you may have an abscess. This is an infection in the root of your tooth.
An abscess can lead to bone loss or cause other problems without treatment. The swelling may be just around your gum, or it could affect your whole jaw.
5. Extreme pain
A toothache that prevents you from getting through your day can be a serious health issue. It’s most often caused by decay and inflammation of the pulp inside your tooth. The infection can spread without treatment, plus the pain can make it impossible to eat or possibly to speak.
If you’re experiencing any of these situations, chances are you have a dental emergency. Call our office.