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What Counts as a Dental Emergency?

April 4, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drdan @ 5:51 pm

woman holding cold compress to her face

When you’re dealing with a sudden problem in your mouth, your dentist should be the first person you call. This is especially true now, when most dental practices are closed for all non-emergency patients due to COVID-19. But sometimes it can be hard to tell when you truly have a dental emergency on your hands. After all, dental pain can be fairly common. Here are a few signs to watch out for that indicate you need to see a dentist as soon as possible.

You Knocked Out a Tooth

A fully dislodged tooth is the most urgent of all dental emergencies. Once a tooth has been knocked out, you have only an hour at most to get to your dentist’s office to get it re-implanted. In the meantime, store the tooth in your cheek pocket or a container of milk until you reach their practice.

You’re in Severe Pain

A mild toothache still warrants calling your dentist, but it can usually wait a few days. On the other hand, if you have a raging toothache that distracts you from your daily activities like eating and sleeping, you should contact your emergency dentist right away. You might be dealing with an infection, a fracture, or a cavity deep within the tooth.

Part of Your Mouth Is Swollen

Are you experiencing swelling in your gums, tongue, or other soft tissue in your mouth? That is usually a clear sign of an infection, especially if your swelling is accompanied by a high fever or pain. Until you get to your dentist’s office, you can apply a cold compress to the area to curb both pain and swelling.

You Have Loose Teeth

Once you’ve become an adult, your teeth should never be loose. If they are, then you need medical attention quickly before the problem worsens. Not doing so could mean losing your tooth. Resist the temptation to wiggle your tooth, since that could dislodge it further.

You’re Bleeding Profusely

If you injured your mouth in some way, apply firm pressure with a piece of gauze or cloth. However, if you’re still bleeding after more than 15 minutes of applying pressure, contact an emergency dentist.

In general, if something is wrong with your mouth, it’s best to alert your dentist as soon as you can, even if the problem isn’t described in this post. Since your dentist is likely dedicated to emergency patients right now, they should have plenty of time in their schedules to treat you and get your smile back on the right track.

About the Author

Dr. Sarah Pitarra is a dentist in Corpus Christi who earned her doctorate at Baylor College of Dentistry. She is a member of many different professional dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Academy of General Dentistry. At the recommendations of the American Dental Association, Dr. Pitarra’s practice is only treating patients with dental emergencies. If you have one of the problems mentioned in the post above, visit Dr. Pitarra’s website or call (361) 855-7171.

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