What is considered a dental emergency?

While dentists are used to handling patients with regular dental visits and scheduled appointments, they are also capable of handling immediate dental emergencies. For many dental emergencies it is often better to seek treatment at the dental office instead of an emergency room. That is because dentists have the ability to use a wide range of tools and techniques from special root canal instruments to stabilizing splints that can be bonded to teeth which may not be available in an emergency room. Many common dental emergencies and injuries respond well when treated immediately. Hence it is important to set up an appointment as soon as possible.

What are common dental emergencies?

It’s important to know what an emergency is in dental terms. Conditions like plaque or tartar or bad breath aren’t dire issues. Dental emergencies are conditions that may require immediate care to fix or will grow worse or become irreparable over time. Here are some of the most common forms of dental emergency and what they may mean:

Unexplained Toothache

Pain is a signal telling your brain that a location is undergoing unnatural stress. When this happens in the mouth or specifically in a tooth, it can be a signal for events that the naked eye can’t detect. You should try to get an appointment immediately if you have persistent tooth pain that lasts for more than a day, and keep the mouth rinsed with warm salt water to help alleviate any further stress.

Swollen/Bleeding Gums

Your gums keep your teeth in place, and if they are compromised you might end up damaging them. If your gums start to bleed and won’t stop, or are swollen or discolored, seek a dentist immediately.

Exposed Tooth Nerves

The nerve is what the tooth shields from the outside world. If something happens to the tooth and the nerve is revealed, it can cause immense pain. The nerve is the source of all sensation in and around a tooth. If it’s exposed, it could lead to severe pain. Seek medical attention to determine the best course of action.

Missing Tooth

If you lose a tooth from a sudden traumatic force, that’s a critical emergency. However, if the tooth is still mostly intact, it can be replaced and repaired. Pick up the tooth by the top – the part you’re used to seeing – and avoid touching the root. It’s occasionally possible to force it back in place and seek further attention to keep it there. Otherwise, keep it in milk to increase its survival and get to a dentist immediately.

Missing Filling

If you feel like one of your previously work-on teeth is a little hollow, you should immediately go to the dentist to get it replaced. Fillings help offer reinforcement and protection to the nerve beneath.

Broken Crown

If the root is still in the gums but the top of the tooth – the crown – that you eat with is gone or damaged, you should treat it as an emergency. Waiting only runs a higher risk of getting an infection, requiring more drastic surgeries.

Abscessed Tooth

This is the result of waiting too long to deal with a problem. An abscess forms a pocket inside the tooth of infected material which can rapidly spread throughout the gums, affecting other teeth and parts of the mouth. Get this dealt with right away. You can mitigate some of the effects with warm saltwater rinses, but getting rid of it for good requires a procedure.

We have emergency dentists at Attleboro, Chelsmford, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Lynn, Manchester NH, Methuen, Revere, Roslindale, Somerville and Taunton. Please select your closest location under the location tab of the website and find the phone number to call us if you have a dental emergency.