Dental Emergency, or Should You Wait Until Tomorrow?

Have you ever broken a tooth, lost a filling, or had a bad toothache? If it happened during normal business hours you probably just called the dentist’s office and made an appointment for that same day. But, what if something happened after hours or on the weekend? Would you know if it was a true emergency or if it could wait? 

When faced with a possible dental emergency, especially during this COVID crisis, David Jin, DDS, and our caring and experienced team at A Beautiful Smile Dentistry in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and Boston, Massachusetts, can help you. Here’s some advice on what’s a true dental emergency and what’s not, so you get the help you need, when you need it.

What are not dental emergencies

If you crack or chip a tooth or lose a filling or crown, you may worry about the tooth getting infected or that your tooth will fall out. These usually aren’t dental emergencies that need immediate care. Most of the time they can wait until we’re open for regular business hours unless you’re in severe pain. 

The same goes for a toothache. Is the pain severe, or can you hang in there with some over-the-counter pain relievers for a day or so? Here’s a tip. If you lost a crown, use dental cement or adhesive to hold it on until we can fix it for you.

What are dental emergencies

If you lose a tooth, suffer an injury to your mouth, or are in severe pain, call us right away. Other dental emergencies include:

What you can do

The first step when you or a loved one suffer a dental emergency is to call our office. We’ll let you know whether to come in right away or if it can wait until tomorrow. Here’s how you can take care of dental emergencies at home until we can see you the next business day.

Abscessed tooth

This occurs when you have an infection. You’ll probably have a fever, have inflammation, be in severe pain, and your tooth will be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. You may have swollen lymph nodes too. An abscessed tooth can be life threatening because the infection can spread into your jaw or the bloodstream where it travels to other parts of your body. Take over-the-counter pain relievers and rinse with warm salt water throughout the day.

Chipped or cracked tooth

Biting down on a hard piece of candy or eating popcorn can chip or crack your teeth. If this happens, save any pieces of your tooth that you can. Rinse your mouth out with warm water, place gauze or a teabag on the area to stop any bleeding, and use an ice pack or frozen vegetables to help keep swelling down. 

Missing tooth

You could be missing a tooth after an accident, a fight, or from playing sports. If possible, gently wash out your mouth with warm water, find the tooth, and carefully pick it up by the crown instead of its roots. Rinse it and place it in a cup of milk to help preserve it. Call us right away or go to an emergency room if you have uncontrolled bleeding.

Soft tissue injury

If you cut your tongue, lips, cheeks, or gums, you could bleed and be in pain. For severe bleeding that won’t stop, go to an emergency room as soon as possible. Otherwise, try rinsing with warm salt water, using over-the-counter pain medicine, and placing moistened gauze or a tea bag on the injury site to help control the bleeding. 

Emergencies do happen, but by staying on top of your routine teeth cleanings and exams you can prevent tooth decay, infections, and lost crowns or fillings. If you need emergency or routine dental care, make an appointment with Dr. Jin today. Book online or call either location.

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