In 2016, 64.4% of adults between the ages of 18-64 had a dental visit. Meanwhile, the number of emergency room visits for dental issues has risen from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010. And ER visits are expensive and there’s not always a dentist on staff.
Whether you see your dentist twice a year or you haven’t been in five years, it’s possible you’ll require emergency dental services at some point. What’s important is that you know whether it’s a real emergency and who you can call.
If you’re in the Washington DC area experiencing problems that require emergency dental services, we can help. Here are seven conditions to look out for.
Knocked Out Tooth
If a tooth gets knocked out, time is of the essence. Emergency dentists have about 30 minutes after your tooth has been knocked out to replace the original tooth so act quickly.
There are several steps you can take before hitting the dental office to ensure you save your tooth.
First, gently pick it up by the crown or chewing surface. Do not pick it up by the root.
Gently rinse off any dirt on your tooth with water. Don’t use soap or chemicals. And don’t scrub, dry or wrap your tooth.
Instead, if you can, place your tooth back into the socket as soon as possible. If it’s not possible, keep your tooth moist by either putting it in your mouth next to your cheek or putting it in milk.
Do not place your tooth in regular tap water. The root surface cells won’t tolerate it for a long period of time.
There are several ways you can end up with cracked teeth. You can get hit in the mouth, fall or bite down on something hard.
You can also have cavities that have weakened the tooth or old amalgam fillings that aren’t supporting the remaining enamel of your tooth.
If it’s minor such as a fracture, it may not hurt. But if a large piece breaks off, the nerve inside the tooth may be damaged and that can cause severe pain. If nerve endings are exposed to air, that also causes tremendous pain.
What You Can Do
For cracked teeth, if it hurts, it’s a dental emergency. Even if your tooth looks fine or if your tooth hurts all the time or experience pain when you release the bite, it’s a sign you need to set an appointment quickly for treatment.
Broken teeth occur for the same reasons cracked teeth do. But it’s a much more serious problem.
It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible if you broke your tooth. A dentist will examine your tooth to see if the nerve is in danger and what caused the break. Often root canal dental treatments are necessary.
What to Do Before Your Dental Visit
To minimize the pain, rinse your mouth with warm water. You can add salt to reduce pain.
Cold packs are great to reduce swelling and relieve pain. And cover your tooth with dental cement if you have a local emergency but can’t see your dentist right away. Those are available at local drug stores.
Schedule an appointment immediately if you have an abscessed tooth. An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus that forms due to a bacterial infection. And it can cause anywhere from moderate to severe pain that may extend to your ear and/or neck. If you don’t seek treatment from emergency dentists for an abscessed tooth it can turn life-threatening.
There are several types of abscesses that your teeth can experience. All of them cause symptoms such as swelling, pain, and even a fever.
You’re Experiencing Bleeding and Swelling
It’s not that uncommon for your gums to bleed. It often means you need to improve how often you brush and floss your gums. It may also be due to health issues or medications you’re taking. But there are times when you should consider bleeding gums a dental emergency.
If your gums are red or swollen or they’re extremely sensitive to hot and cold, you need to see your dentist. If you are beginning to notice that your gums are separating from your teeth to the point where you notice a gap, schedule an appointment.
If you begin noticing a bad taste in your mouth or you’ve developed halitosis, it’s a sign your gums aren’t healthy. And if you have a loose tooth or your teeth have changed their alignment, these are signs you’ve experienced significant damages to your gums.
When It’s an Emergency
While bleeding gums shouldn’t be ignored, most of the time you don’t need to rush in to see your dentist immediately.
If you do experience bleeding gums you can apply pressure with gauze to an area that’s bleeding for 10 minutes. You can also apply a tea bag on the area to stop any bleeding.
However, if the bleeding won’t stop, consider it a dental emergency.
Object Stuck in Your Mouth
Getting something stuck between your teeth or gums due to an accident or injury is stressful and painful. Often small items like popcorn or seeds can get stuck in between your teeth and all you need is some dental floss handy to fix the issue. However, if flossing gently doesn’t work, do not try to use a sharp or pointed object to get it out. You can cause further injury and make things worse for yourself. Instead, contact your dental office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible, especially if you’re experiencing a lot of pain or bleeding.
You Have a Tooth Infection
Infections don’t just go away on their own. It’s a sign from your body that something is seriously wrong. And the longer you wait to treat it, the worse it gets. Take over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol to help alleviate the pain. You can also try a cold compress. Then call your dentist to make an emergency dental appointment.
If your teeth or gums are injured or in pain, don’t wait until regular office hours. You need immediate attention.
We can help. Our office provides emergency dental services in Washington DC. Click here to contact us.