When to Visit an Emergency Dentist vs. the Emergency Room
An emergency dentist has a practice that takes walk-in patients with dental emergencies. They keep longer hours, including evenings, weekends and some holidays. Such dentists have practices that are equipped to deal with a wide range of dental emergencies.
Sometimes, however, a patient may have an oral or dental emergency that is so serious that it can only be treated in a hospital emergency room. Often, dental emergencies that are treated in hospitals are potentially life-threatening. So, which dental emergencies call for a hospital visit and which ones are best treated by an emergency dentist?
When to see an emergency dentist
Emergency dentists see patients that need urgent help but are in no danger of serious health complications. They are lifesavers when the patient's other options are to make an appointment or wait in pain until their dentist shows up for work. An emergency dentist will treat minor and major dental issues like:
1. A loose or broken restoration
Dental restorations like fillings, crowns, inlays and bridges can come loose. They can also fracture or break. When this happens, a patient may experience acute pain, tooth sensitivity, infection and eventually decay. Loose or broken dental restorations need to be replaced quickly. If left unattended, a failed restoration could eventually lead to the loss of a tooth.
2. When a tooth is knocked loose
A person who loses a tooth because of trauma to the mouth can have it reattached, but only if they act fast. The person should pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse it with lukewarm water. If they can, they should try to put the tooth back in place before going to the emergency dentist. If they cannot, they should place the tooth in tepid water or milk and rush to the dentist. If the person makes it to the dentist within an hour of their accident, the patient should have their tooth reattached without any complications.
3. A fractured tooth
A blow to the mouth can cause a tooth to crack, which in turn causes unbearable pain. Because it hurts so much, a fractured tooth is a dental emergency. An emergency dentist will choose the appropriate treatment for the fractured tooth, depending on how severe the fracture is.
4. Severe toothache caused by advanced tooth decay
If tooth decay is left untreated, it will eventually cause awful pain. When the pain becomes too much to ignore, a patient can quickly visit an emergency dentist. The dentist will remove the decayed tissue in the tooth and fix it with a suitable dental restoration.
5. Loose or broken orthodontic appliances
Orthodontic devices suffer wear and tear. Sometimes they choose the worst time to break apart or come loose. Thankfully, emergency dentists keep long hours, and they patch up orthodontics on a walk-in basis.
When to go to the emergency room
Some dental problems are serious enough to require a hospital visit. Examples of such emergencies are:
1. Serious trauma
A blow to the face, a bad fall or a car accident can cause injury to the teeth, the jaw or the soft tissues in the mouth. Often, such trauma results in deep cuts that cause heavy bleeding. In some cases, a patient may have an injured jaw. Serious injuries to the mouth or face have the potential to cause health complications, so a patient should see a physician to rule out more serious injuries.
2. A tooth or gum infection that results in fever
Sometimes an infection can spread from the mouth to the rest of the body. When it spreads, the infection causes fever and weakness. Left untreated, the infection could morph into a serious illness. Once an oral infection spreads, the person should go to a hospital and not an emergency dentist.
No need to wait for an appointment when an emergency happens
Our dental practice near San Antonio offers emergency services. We are open on evenings and weekends. We also take walk-in patients.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.
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