Dental Emergencies

Dental Emergencies

Like any other type of emergency, dental emergencies can occur without warning and require immediate dental care. Although certain types of dental emergencies can cause panic, quick thinking and staying calm are the best ways to approach a dental emergency and prevent additional unnecessary damage and costly dental restorations. To accommodate you during this stressful time, Bethesda Family Dentistry offers same-day emergency dental services. 

Possible dental emergencies can include: 

  • Knocked out or broken teeth
  • Knocked out or broken restorations
  • Sudden and/or severe toothache
  • Broken orthodontic appliances
  • Infected tooth
  • Soft tissue damage

Did You Know?

The number of patients seeking treatment for dental emergencies has risen from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010. Furthermore, most of these patients go to a regular emergency room, which is not equipped to handle dental emergencies. This means that their treatment often only offers brief relief and does not address the cause of the problem. Seeking emergency dental care from a dentist is highly important because they are properly trained to address and correct issues that emergency room doctors cannot. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Am I having a dental emergency?

You may be having a dental emergency if you are experiencing any of the things listed above. However, a dental emergency is loosely defined as something that requires immediate dental treatment. If you find yourself unable to eat, speak, or open your mouth comfortably, these are all signs you may require emergency dental treatment. If you are not sure, simply call our office and describe your situation and we will provide you with further guidance and instruction. 

It is important to note that for some dental emergencies, waiting as little as 30 minutes can be the difference between saving or losing a tooth. Because of this, we encourage you to call our office if you even suspect a dental emergency. 

What should I do if I am having a dental emergency?

The first thing you should do if you are having a dental emergency is to call our office. While you wait, there may also be a few steps that you can take to improve your situation. Listed below are a few guidelines to follow for common dental emergencies

Woman holding an ice pack to her cheek

  • Knocked out teeth: if your tooth has been knocked out, it is important that you only handle it by the crown and try to preserve any attached tissue. Rinse the tooth and then keep it moist using milk or saliva. If possible try to hold the tooth in place in its original socket. 
  • Broken teeth: rinse your mouth with warm water and collect any tooth fragments. Keep these fragments moist using milk or saliva. 
  • Soft tissue injuries: clean the wound and rinse with warm water. Stop any bleeding by biting down on gauze or a tea bag. Some soft tissue injuries may require an emergency room visit. 
  • Faulty restoration: this is most common with temporary restorations and they can usually be reattached with toothpaste, Chapstick, gum, or denture adhesive. If it is the permanent restoration that is faulty, be sure to bring your restoration with you to your appointment.

For any type of dental emergency, we recommend using a cold compress to relieve any type or pain or discomfort until your appointment. We also recommend avoiding taking aspirin or ibuprofen, because they can thin the blood and cause excess bleeding. If you must take something for the pain, we advise taking acetaminophen. 


What happens during an emergency dental appointment at Bethesda Family Dentistry?

At Bethesda Family Dentistry, we take dental emergencies very seriously. As such, you can expect that we will get you a same-day appointment as soon as possible. We also want your experience to be as positive and painless as possible. Because of this, we may opt to use dental anesthetics to keep you comfortable and dental sedation to keep you calm. Your specific treatment, however, will depend upon the type and severity of emergency. 

What can I expect after having emergency dental care at Bethesda Family Dentistry?

After your emergency dental appointment, you may receive specialized instructions to follow. These specific instructions will vary depending on the type of emergency and the nature of your in-office treatment. However, post-treatment guidelines can consist of some or all of the following: temporary dietary restrictions, keeping the affected area clean, and taking medications. 

Depending on the type of procedure you had performed, you may also experience some residual numbness from the dental anesthetics or drowsiness from the dental sedation. However in most cases, nitrous oxide can be used, which doesn’t cause residual drowsiness. If a deeper level of sedation is required, you will also need to find a driver to take you home from your appointment. 

In some cases, you may also have some residual pain or soreness in the affected area. Any pain or discomfort should fade quickly and can be managed with a cold compress or over the counter pain medications. Most times, residual pain is simply a reaction to the trauma or previous infection. 

How can I prepare for a dental emergency?

Small metal container with missing teeth insideWhile it is impossible to be completely prepared for a dental emergency, there are a few steps you can take to ensure things go smoother during a dental emergency. One important thing you can do is to create a dental first aid kit or simply add some dental items to your normal first aid kit. A dental first aid kit should consist of a small container with a lid (for placing lost or fragmented teeth), gauze pads, a handkerchief, acetaminophen (aspirin or ibuprofen can cause excess bleeding), and our office number. 

Can dental emergencies be prevented?

Boy putting in a mouthguard before playing football

Some types of dental emergencies can be prevented. Ideally to prevent a dental emergency, you will want to refrain from any type of damaging behaviors such as chewing excessively hard foods or objects, grinding or clenching your teeth, smoking, and using your teeth to open packages. Additionally, if you play sports or if you are aware that you regularly grind or clench your teeth, you should be fitted for a mouth guard to protect your teeth and soft tissues from injury. 

For a qualified, experienced, and caring approach to emergency dentistry, schedule a consultation with one of our dentists at our Ferndale Bethesda Family Dentistry office in Bethesda.