The painful truth is that 25 percent of Americans experience a dental emergency at some point during their lives. This means that quick treatment by a dentist is warranted, usually due to pain or trauma. Sometimes it’s hard to determine whether a problem is a real emergency requiring immediate attention or something that can wait until the next available appointment with your dentist. Here are some guidelines to help you decide.
How do I know it’s an emergency?
Pain is your body’s signal to you that something is wrong. If you feel pain in your mouth or jaw, make an appointment with your dentist for an examination. That’s the best way to identify the cause of your pain, diagnose the issue, and obtain treatment to help get rid of your pain.
What are some common dental emergencies?
Some emergencies are more obvious than others. When a tooth is broken, cracked, or knocked out, you should see the dentist immediately. An accident causing jaw pain is another reason to head straight to a medical professional. Here is a list of common things that are typically considered emergencies:
- Abscess or infection, often indicated by fever or swelling
- Severe wisdom teeth pain
- Fractured tooth
- Knocked out tooth
- Broken denture
- Loose permanent tooth
- Toothache, especially those that worsen when laying down or with time
- Lost crown, cap, or filling
- Dry socket
What can I do until seeing the dentist?
Take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen as directed by your dentist. Don’t take aspirin because it can worsen bleeding. Pain medicine doesn’t treat the actual problem causing your pain, but at least it helps make you feel better until you can see your dentist. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water may also help, as well as holding an ice pack to the painful area for 20 minutes at a time. Try these methods until you can make it to the dentist for more permanent solutions.