What is considered a dental emergency?

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Dental emergencies are not uncommon occurrences, and most of us will make at least one trip to an emergency dentist either for ourselves or for a child. Dental emergencies occur when trauma causes a tooth to break or be forced out of the socket. It can also include other types of trauma to the mouth, including lacerations, broken or otherwise damaged bones in the face or jaw.

When to See an Emergency Dentist

If you suffer severe trauma to the face, and you have lost teeth or have broken facial bones or other damage to the teeth, jaw, or face, you should see an emergency dentist as soon as possible. If you have lost a tooth, the sooner you see a dentist, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to save the tooth. Broken-off teeth should be evaluated promptly to see if they require root canal treatment, and broken facial bones can be repaired by an oral or maxillofacial surgeon.

If you do experience a major oral or dental injury, you can administer immediate first aid, which will also help ensure a more positive outcome. This can include:

  • Using gauze to slow or stanch bleeding
  • Put any avulsed (knocked-out) teeth in a cup of water or milk
  • Watch for any signs of head injuries

Severe enough injuries might justify a call to 9-1-1 or a trip to the emergency room.

Preventing Dental Emergencies

The best way to protect your teeth from this kind of damage is to prevent dental emergencies from happening in the first place. Some measures to take include:

  • Always wear your seatbelt in the car
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorcycle
  • Wear a mouthguard while playing contact sports
  • Wear appropriate footwear when hiking or walking on winter surfaces
  • Avoid uneven, slick, wet, or icy terrain

Falls and accidents are the most common causes of dental emergencies, so taking precautions against them is the best way to avoid hurting your face and teeth. Keep a first aid kit easily available, and include in it a phone number to your emergency dentist.