What is Considered a Dental Emergency?

When you have a medical emergency after hours, emergency care is available around the clock at hospitals around the nation. For oral health, however, things are not the same. You can’t simply go to the nearest emergency room to have your tooth looked at – and even if you can, they are generally only able to treat the symptoms, not fix the problem itself. So when is it appropriate to wait until your dentist is open for office hours and when should you not wait? These are dental emergency answers about what to seek immediate care versus when to hold off.

How Do You Know If It is an Emergency?

When it comes to determining what is a dental emergency and what can wait, the lines are not very clear. For a dental situation to be technically considered an emergency, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How severe is the pain? – When you experience extreme pain, it is always a sign that you should address the tooth condition as if it is an emergency
  • Do you have a loose tooth or teeth? – If you get help quickly, you most likely will not lose the tooth
  • Did you lose a tooth or any teeth? – For missing teeth, you only have a short window to replace the tooth once you have lost it. If you wait too long, it will not be repairable
  • Is there the potential that you have an infection? – An infection in your mouth can be life-threatening, so waiting is never an option. Infection can present itself as swelling in the mouth and is hot to the touch
  • Is your mouth bleeding? – Bleeding is usually a sign that emergency care is necessary

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then it is a judgment call. The best way to handle an emergency dental situation is to contact your regular dentist for advice or head immediately to an emergency dentist in your area if they have open hours. However, you can avoid having to find an emergency dentist if you choose a dental professional who offers emergency care in-office.

When is It Not an Emergency Situation?

It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to a possible dental emergency, but you also have to temper that with common sense and a cool head.

For things like a cracked or chipped tooth, although it’s unnerving, if you are not experiencing pain and there aren’t any sharp edges that can do more potential harm, then you can wait for office hours. For a mild toothache, treatment is a must – but that doesn’t always mean it has to be the same day. However, if you have other symptoms like a fever or red bumps in your mouth, that is a cause for concern.

Sometimes It is Difficult to Tell

Unfortunately, there aren’t always obvious signs that indicate whether you need emergency care or not. The best thing you can do is to contact a trusted professional to guide you. At Dr. Tatum’s Dentistry, we not only offer emergency dental care; we also have the knowledge to help you determine when to seek emergency care after hours and when you can wait.

If you are having a dental crisis, Dr. Tatum is the emergency dentist in Charleston to call to get your questions answered quickly. Contact us today to discuss your dental issue!

SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT