There are many situations that fall under the category of emergency dentistry. Actual emergencies such as severe swelling, or severe trauma to the mouth from a fall or accident, may require a visit to the dentist as soon as possible, or in extreme cases the emergency room. If a tooth, or portion of a tooth, is knocked out of your mouth from trauma, it is important to see a dentist as quickly as possible to see if the teeth can be re-implanted. The tooth or teeth should be kept in a container of milk and brought to the dentist, or if no milk is available, kept in your mouth. In no circumstance is it a good idea to wash the tooth in water, even if it has been on the ground. Water will usually kill the ligaments that cover the root of a tooth, and make it unlikely that the tooth will be able to be saved. The tooth does need to be kept moist however, and therefore a container of milk or the saliva in your mouth are the two best options usually available. At sporting events, a trainer may have a solution called Save-a-Tooth, which is a special liquid formulation that is considered the best way to preserve a tooth.
How severe is your dental emergency?
An abscessed (infected) tooth can cause severe swelling, and the swelling can be considered a medical emergency depending on the severity. An abscessed lower molar can result in swelling that extends back to the throat area, which can make it difficult to breathe. An upper tooth can sometimes cause swelling that extends to the lower portion of the eye socket. In these extreme situations, a visit to the emergency room is required.
There are other situations that may not be considered true medical emergencies but do necessitate the help of a dentist on short notice. These include chipped or fractured teeth, a toothache, a crown or filling that has come loose, or a possible infection. In most cases, if the situation requires immediate attention, we can see you on short notice to evaluate your issue. Sometimes the problem can be solved right away such as fixing a chipped front tooth or replacing a crown or filling. For example, a chipped tooth can often be corrected in one short visit by applying highly esthetic dental composite, which restores the tooth to its original appearance.
We are here when you need us!
Even if the situation requires more than just a filling, we can often temporarily fix the problem and reschedule you for a longer visit. Other times, prescriptions may be needed to reduce infection or pain before any work is started.
If you are unsure whether or not you need to be seen, give us a call. Dr. Wahlers can always be reached, even on days we are closed.