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What is a Dental Emergency?

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Woman with a painful toothache at the dentist seeking immediate care

For the most part, we all know what to do when we have a medical emergency, but what do you do when you have a dental emergency? Like any other emergency, you must seek immediate care and book a same-day appointment with your dentist. Ensuring that your dental emergency receives treatment as quickly as possible increases the chance of a positive outcome. 

Identifying a Dental Emergency

The first step to receiving proper care for dental issues is identifying what type of care you need and knowing the difference between urgent and emergency care. It is important to recognize this difference and calling your dentist is a great start to clarify how soon and what treatment is required.

Signs of a Dental Emergency 

A dental emergency is usually easy to identify and is often accompanied by severe pain or trauma to the mouth. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, call your dentist and seek treatment immediately:

  • Severe Pain: If you are unable to perform normal activities without experiencing pain, it is a clear sign that you are suffering from a dental emergency
  • Infection: Redness, irritation, swelling, trouble swallowing and/or a fever are all signs of a dental emergency 
  • Prolonged or profuse bleeding are signs of a dental emergency
  • Knocked-Out Teeth: If you have lost a tooth, you must see a dentist immediately as proper emergency action can save a tooth and ensure successful implantation

If you are still unsure about what constitutes a dental emergency, we have compiled a list of the most common dental emergencies we treat and what to do until you can be seen by your dentist.

What isn’t a Dental Emergency

Now that we know what a dental emergency is, let’s talk about how to recognize what isn’t a dental emergency but rather an urgent concern. 

If you are experiencing a dental issue, whether it be an object lodged in the teeth, or minor swelling of the gums, with minimal pain, your issue is likely not an emergency. Many factors can cause tooth damage that does not require immediate attention. For example, chipped or broken teeth without pain can be a result of normal wear over time, and do not need to be repaired right away to achieve a successful outcome.

A dental issue without severe pain, infection, or bleeding can be an urgent need, you may not require treatment from your dentist that same day but rather in the near future.  

 A Woman with a toothache on the phone calling to receive emergency dental care

What to do if You Have A Dental Emergency 

It should be clear now that you must seek immediate treatment if you have a dental emergency. If you are experiencing any of the above emergency symptoms, call your dentist’s office as soon as possible to see what course of action you can take.

At Southgate Dental Centre, we have extended hours and allow for same-day appointments to ensure that patients that are experiencing dental emergencies are always taken care of. Regardless if you call after hours, one of our doctors will provide you with direction on exactly what to do next. 

Why it’s Important to Seek Immediate Care

Although there are many reasons why you should seek immediate care when dealing with an emergency, these are the three main reasons immediate emergency dental care is so important:

  • You’ll increase your chances of having a successful outcome. The likelihood of having successful emergency dental care relies on how quickly you seek treatment after the incident. The faster you can get to your dentist, the greater the chance that your dentist will be able to repair the issue.
  • You save yourself from having to endure unnecessary pain and distress. The number one symptom of a dental injury is pain, so the longer you put off treatment, the more pain you’ll be in. Seeing a dentist as quickly as possible will ensure that the injury is taken care of as quickly as possible.
  • You will reduce the risk of additional injuries. Leaving an injury untreated can have many other adverse effects beyond the initial trauma. Dental infections can spread to other parts of your body and may become quite serious.

What To Expect 

Emergency dental care is slightly different from other dental care. With dental emergencies, immediate action is taken to address the emergency, whether it be severe pain, infection, broken teeth, or bleeding in the mouth. In a dental emergency, this will be your dentist’s top priority.

If you require emergency dental care, you need to know that we here at Southgate Dental Centre are well-versed in handling dental emergencies. We have 35 years of experience and knowledge required to ensure that your treatment is as effective and efficient as possible.

Written by Dr. Kevin Hamm

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