Did you know an estimated 2.1 million people experience a dental emergency each year? Dental emergencies can happen at any time — whether you just got your tooth knocked out while playing a game of basketball, or develop severe pain from a toothache over the course of a few days.
No matter the cause, it’s important to call us immediately if you believe you are experiencing a dental emergency. But what exactly is a dental emergency? Let’s take a look.
Is your emergency life-threatening? Call 911 right away.
What is a dental emergency?
The definition of a dental emergency will vary from dentist to dentist, but in our practice, we define it as any dental situation that requires immediate treatment to stop pain and prevent additional harm. Below, we’ll explore common types of dental emergencies and urgent dental care situations.
The key word with a dental emergency is “immediate.” This includes any condition that needs immediate treatment to save a tooth, alleviate severe pain, treat an infection, or stop uncontrolled bleeding in the mouth.
Common dental emergencies include:
- Knocked out tooth
- Cracked tooth
- Broken tooth
- Severe pain from a toothache
- Damaged crown or filling
- Tooth abscess
Most of the time, these conditions are best treated by your dentist. In fact, here at Cedar Village Dentistry, if your dental emergency isn’t life threatening, we can often help you in a much more efficient and effective manner than a costly ER visit.
That said, there are certain dental emergencies that require ER attention, including extreme infections, a broken jaw, or facial trauma. If you’ve experienced a life-threatening injury or cannot get a hold of your dentist and aren’t sure if your dental issue requires immediate attention, call 911.
Urgent dental care
Urgent dental care cases are still serious and should be addressed quickly. They require fast action to manage pain or alleviate risk of infection. While a dental emergency may at times require a trip to the hospital, urgent dental care situations can almost always be treated by your dentist.
- Inflammation surrounding a wisdom tooth (Pericoronitis)
- Dry socket
- Tooth fracture
- Denture adjustments/repairs
It can be hard to tell the difference between a dental emergency and urgent dental care — if you aren’t sure, give us a call at (513) 770-4370. We’ll help you determine the correct course of action to take for your problem.
What isn’t a dental emergency?
Thankfully, not everything is a dental emergency. Non-emergency dental care is still important, but doesn’t require immediate action. This dental care includes:
- Annual exams and x-rays
- Routine dental cleanings
- Orthodontic procedures that aren’t life threatening
- Restorative dentistry, such as fillings, crowns, or bridges
- Cosmetic dental procedures, like teeth whitening
In addition to maintaining good at-home dental care habits, regular twice-a-year checkups and cleanings are the best way to avoid preventable dental emergencies. For example, regular brushing and flossing helps decrease the chances of developing a severe toothache or tooth abscess.
Signs you’re experiencing a dental emergency
A dental emergency isn’t always as extreme as having a tooth knocked out or bleeding from your gums that won’t stop. Here are a few other signs of a dental emergency:
- Your jaw or face is swelling
- Your gums are swelling
- You have a loose tooth
- Your mouth tastes like metal
- You suddenly lost a tooth (as an adult)
In general, you should plan to contact us any time you’re experiencing pain in your mouth or teeth. We’ll help you determine whether you’re dealing with an emergency that requires a more serious treatment.
Are dental emergencies covered under insurance?
The short answer: maybe. Depending on the dental insurance plan you have, certain dental emergencies may be covered.
Some dental insurance plans will cover the cost of the emergency, but charge a deductible or co-pay. Others will pay until a certain point, leaving the rest to be paid out of pocket. It’s important to read the fine print of your plan to learn exactly what your dental emergency coverage looks like.
If you have questions about insurance and paying for dental care, let us know. Our team is happy to help you understand your coverage and maximize your benefits.
What to do if you’re experiencing a dental emergency
Since you can’t plan when a dental emergency occurs, it’s important to know the steps to take so you can act as quickly as possible in the moment. Luckily, that plan of action is pretty simple:
Is your emergency life threatening? Call 911 right away. Otherwise, use these tips below.
Call your dentist
If you feel you are experiencing a dental emergency, the first step is to call your dentist’s office. Here at Cedar Village Dentistry, we’re here to help during a dental emergency and will do our best to get you in for a same-day emergency visit.
Go to the emergency room
In the event you can’t reach your dentist, go to the emergency room. The hospital staff should be able to determine if you can wait for treatment from a dentist and possibly provide medication to help alleviate any severe pain.
If you’ve knocked out a tooth
If you’ve knocked out a tooth, there are a few steps you can take to try to save it:
- Pick up the tooth by the crown (never touch the root if you can avoid it!)
- If the tooth is dirty, carefully rinse it with a little water
- If possible, place the tooth back in its socket right away
- Keep the tooth moist (milk works great!)
More often than not, you should plan to go to the emergency room with a knocked out tooth. Time is of the essence if you want to save the tooth, and you’ll be able to get the fastest treatment in the ER.
Prepare in advance for dental emergencies
We all have plans for fires, natural disasters, and vet emergencies, right? It’s a good idea to be prepared for a dental emergency, too. This is easier than it sounds.
Start by adding our phone number — (513) 770-4370 — to your contact list for easy access. It also never hurts to know where your closest urgent care facilities and emergency rooms are located.
Additionally, take steps today to avoid a dental problem tomorrow. Adopt good dental health habits, schedule your routine dental check-up with Dr. Dooley, and ask us any questions or concerns you have.
We’re here to help during a dental emergency.
If you’re experiencing dental pain or an injury to the mouth, contact us at (513) 770-4370 and we will do everything we can to get you the help you need as quickly as possible.
Dr. Dooley graduated from the University of Kentucky School of Dentistry and went on to complete IV Sedation training at Miami Valley Hospital and a Fellowship at Midwest Implant Institute. As an enthusiastic dentist with comprehensive dental expertise, Dr. Dooley is proud to combine modern techniques and high-tech equipment to provide personalized and comfortable care to his patients