Emergency Dentistry

Dental emergencies can happen at any time, but if you are prepared to respond to them, you may be able to minimize any lasting damage. Our office has staff on-call 24 hours a day, so we can give you guidance regardless of when you experience your dental emergency.

There are certain dental emergencies that tend to happen more frequently to patients, and there are also steps that patients can take to prevent dental emergencies. Patients may want to consider keeping a dental first aid kit on hand to manage any issues on their own while they wait to be seen in our office.

If you have any questions about dental emergencies and how we treat them, we encourage you to discuss them with Dr. Nathanson or another one of our experienced team members.

The Most Common Dental Emergencies

A dental emergency can range from an issue that causes persistent pain to damage to the teeth, jaws or other facial structures. Certain types of dental emergencies are fairly common, including:

  • Broken teeth
  • Facial trauma/broken jaws or other facial bones
  • Severe toothache
  • Knocked out tooth
  • Lacerations of the soft oral tissues

There may be steps that you can take to manage symptoms at home, but if you experience any of these issues, you should contact our office as soon as possible so that we can treat the problem in a timely fashion.

What To Do In Case Of Dental Emergencies

Unless there is a serious injury or health issue that warrants a trip to your local emergency room, your first step in a dental emergency should be to call our office’s emergency line. Our daily appointment schedule is arranged to accommodate dental emergencies, and we will work to see you as soon as possible. If you are unable to reach our office during a dental emergency, call 911 for further direction.

Should your dental emergency happen outside of normal business hours, we do have a staff member on call while our offices are closed. You can consult with a knowledgeable professional and determine what your next steps should be until we can see you in our office for treatment.

Preventing Dental Emergencies

There are many steps that patients can take to prevent dental emergencies. For example, a sizeable percentage of dental emergencies result from facial trauma. The following actions can reduce your risk of such trauma:

  • Wearing a seat belt every time you are in the car
  • Avoiding distracted driving or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Wearing a protective mouthguard when playing contact sports
  • Keeping your living area free from tripping hazards

Additionally, in order to protect their smiles, patients should not attempt to use their teeth as tools or chew on non-food items.

Routine dental care is another important preventive measure to guard against dental emergencies. If you are getting professional cleanings and exams every six months, it is much less likely that you will develop a condition that would cause a severe toothache.

Building Your Dental First Aid Kit

In order to limit the negative consequences of dental emergencies, it is helpful to be prepared to respond to them while you wait for professional care. Having a dental first aid kit on hand can help with this effort.

You should include the following items in your dental first aid kit:

  • Dental preservation media
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Gauze
  • Cotton balls or cotton swabs
  • Cold compress
  • Dental floss
  • Dental wax
  • Temporary dental filling material or dental cement
  • Vaseline (to hold a dislodged crown in place)

These items can all be purchased at your local pharmacy or from online retailers.

FAQs about Emergency Dentistry

What is a dental emergency?

A dental emergency is a situation in which a patient needs immediate care to resolve the issue. Dental emergencies are often associated with significant discomfort or trauma to the face that damages the teeth or jaws and/or causes swelling and other symptoms.

Do I need emergency dental care?

If you are experiencing a situation described above, then you will benefit from emergency dental care. Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment or further guidance on how to treat your symptoms. Use your best judgment, as well. If you have broken a facial bone or are experiencing excruciating pain or unusually large amounts of bleeding, seek care at an emergency room and follow up with Dr. Nathanson as directed by your ER doctor.

What if I break a tooth?

While waiting for professional care, patients who break a tooth should rinse their mouths with warm salt water and apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling. Use gauze to soak up any bleeding. While waiting to see the dentist, you can apply dental cement as a temporary fix. Any resulting discomfort can be addressed with over-the-counter painkillers, if needed.

What are different types of dental emergencies?

Patients may experience different types of dental emergencies, including broken or dislodged permanent teeth; cuts to the gums, tongue, lips or cheek tissue; broken jaws or facial bones; or a severe toothache.