Since the COVID-19 outbreak has officially become a pandemic, the American Dental Association has recommended that all dental practices in the country only treat dental emergencies. All elective procedures have been postponed until the widespread threat of the coronavirus is over. So, how can you tell whether your situation warrants an appointment with your emergency dentist? Let’s talk about what exactly constitutes a dental emergency.
Serious pain is one of the main signs that you have a dental emergency on your hands. How can you know when it’s severe enough to call your dentist? Try taking over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen. If your pain doesn’t subside, or it lasts for several days, that’s a sign that you may have a serious cavity deep within the tooth. If your toothache is accompanied by a higher fever or swelling, call your dentist right away. You might have an infection that requires immediate treatment.
You can curb bleeding by applying firm pressure with a piece of cloth or gauze. If that doesn’t work and you’re still bleeding after 15 minutes, contact your dentist right away. If they’re not open, you can visit your local emergency room to stop the bleeding, but you should always visit your dentist instead if you can. They have more specialized training when it comes to oral injuries.
Dislodging a tooth is the most urgent of dental emergencies. The tooth can only be reattached if it is kept wet and you get to your dentist’s office within the hour. Store the tooth in your cheek pocket or a container of milk or saltwater. If your dentist isn’t open, go to the ER, but still call your dentist to see if any further treatment is needed.
Loose teeth might be cute when you’re a kid, but as an adult, they should stay firmly rooted in place. If your teeth are shifting or wiggling, it may be a symptom of advanced gum disease. See your dentist right away. Putting off gum disease treatment could cost you your teeth!
Sometimes, teeth can break or chip without pain. Even if it doesn’t hurt, you should still contact your emergency dentist. Collect all the pieces of your broken tooth, give them a gentle rinse, and bring them with you to your appointment.
If you’re not in any of these situations described above, you probably shouldn’t call your dentist. But if any of them sound familiar, then you absolutely need treatment right away in order to save your smile.
Dr. Paul Stein is a 1994 graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He maintains active memberships in the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, the West Coast District Dental Association, and the Sarasota County Dental Association. His practice, Shore Dental, is open for treating emergencies only. If you find yourself in any of the predicaments listed above, contact Dr. Stein’s office at (941) 257-0826.