Non-Emergency vs. Emergency Dental Care

To start, it’s important to know what constitutes a genuine dental emergency. If you’re experiencing any of the following, please contact your dentist or an emergency room immediately:

  • Severe toothache
  • Dental abscess 
  • Loose tooth
  • Knocked-out tooth
  • A broken tooth or large piece of a tooth is missing
  • Large crack or chip in a tooth

With that out of the way, let’s talk more about non-emergency vs. emergency dental care, what makes a dental situation an emergency, and how to handle both.

What is a Dental Emergency?

So what makes a situation a dental emergency? Broadly speaking a dental emergency is any dental problem requiring immediate treatment by a dentist. This is generally because the dental problem in question could result in a lost tooth, infection, or worse if not treated quickly. Dental emergencies can happen to anyone, generally as the result of an accident but sometimes due to severe neglect. The best ways to prevent dental emergencies include regular dentist visits, daily brushing and flossing routine, use of protective equipment like helmets and mouthguards while playing sports, and general care and caution while going through life. Dental emergencies happen, but many can be prevented with a little bit of effort.

Non-Emergency Dental Problems

It is important to remember non-emergency dental problems may not require immediate medical care, but ought to be seen as soon as possible. In general, mild toothache or sensitivity should be seen to but does not constitute a dental emergency. Likewise, cavities, small chips or cracks, or food stuck between teeth do not require emergency care. Patients with dental prosthetics should remember lost fillings, crowns, or bridges are not dental emergencies.

What to Do for Dental Emergencies

With the distinction made, let’s talk about what to do for dental emergencies. If the lips or gums are bleeding, the ADA recommends a cold compress to help staunch the flow of blood. If a tooth has been knocked out, the best course of action is to clean it carefully and attempt to place it back in the socket or at least hold it in the mouth between the cheek and gum. Keeping the tooth in the mouth allows the saliva to help keep it alive while you’re en route to a dentist. Failing that, keeping the tooth in a glass of milk can help.

Once the immediate emergency has been dealt with, the next step is to seek medical care as quickly as possible. You should try calling your dentist office, even if they’re closed. They may have instructions on how to contact them for emergency care or how to get in touch with a 24-hour emergency dentist. You can also go to the emergency room, which will have a dentist on call to deal with dental emergencies. The key thing is to stay calm and act as quickly as possible—a lot of damage can be reversed if care is rendered quickly.

We’re Here to Help

Whether you need emergency care or just a checkup, Queen City Dental Arts is here to help. Please call us directly or contact 911 if you need emergency care. If you’d like to make a routine appointment, get in touch with us and we’ll schedule something as soon as possible.