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What Qualifies As A Dental Emergency?

Most dental problems don’t require immediate attention. In fact, dental issues like cavities or the early signs of gingivitis aren’t even discovered until your regular checkup. Most of the time, dental issues that don’t cause you pain or problems can wait to be treated.

There is the occasion, however, when you simply can’t wait. The pain is too intense or you’ve had an accident that caused damage to your tooth. Or sometimes you may suspect an infection due to your symptoms and you need to seek dental attention immediately.

Emergencies are never at a good time

When you’re facing a dental emergency, it’s often at the most inopportune time -- over the holidays, on weekends, or at night. You or your child may suffer an injury during a Saturday morning athletic event, or that pain in your tooth that you put off until after your 4th of July family reunion becomes unbearable before the first burger is off the grill.

Obviously, these examples do constitute emergencies that require a dental visit. But sometimes it can be difficult to determine what really qualifies as a dental emergency. Is it urgent? Or can it wait until the next available appointment?

Dr. Hannah Baek of Healthy Smile Dental in Woodbridge, Illinois, offers a few details that can help you determine just how urgent your dental issue may be.

Damage to your tooth

Getting hit in the mouth by a softball can do plenty of damage even when you wear your mouthguard. If you fall victim to an errant pitch, or sustain any other type of injury to your mouth, you may end up with a broken tooth. The severity of your injury, which may be indicated by the pain level, determines if it’s an emergency.

Chipped or cracked teeth, especially in an adult, can usually wait until the next available appointment. Dr. Baek’s office will get you in as soon as possible. However, if the crack is deep, or has split the tooth, you need to be seen right away. And if you’ve lost a significant portion of your tooth, or the entire tooth has been broken off or knocked out, you will need emergency dental attention.

Excessive bleeding

Sometimes when you suffer damage to your mouth, your gums take the brunt of the injury which can result in excessive bleeding from your gums. If the tooth has been knocked loose, your socket can begin to bleed excessively. Try to stem the flow by biting down on sterile, wet gauze, until you get to Healthy Smile Dental. Obviously, when you’re bleeding excessively from your gums or other area of your mouth, it’s clearly an emergency.

Lost filling or crown

There you are, on the couch, binging on your favorite TV show while enjoying a snack, when you bite down in just the wrong way, hear a crack, and feel something in your mouth that is neither chips or salsa. You quickly examine the odd object and discover it’s part of a tooth, a crown, filling, or even a veneer. Is this an emergency?

Well, yes and no. Depending on how extensive the dental work was, you may be at risk for damaging the tooth. Often, when you lose a filling, or a crown, you’re exposing very sensitive tooth tissue to pressure, air, and hot and cold temperatures. This can become excruciating. You should contact Healthy Smile Dental immediately, no matter the time of day.

When you dislodge a veneer or crown, you need to alert Dr. Baek. Although this isn’t a true dental emergency, you don’t want to be out and about with unsightly teeth. The more dire aspect of losing a crown or dental veneer is exposing unprotected tooth tissue to the risk of plaque and bacteria, which can seep into your tooth and cause damage. Be sure to call us and let Dr. Baek determine how soon you need to be seen.

Possible abscess

When you injure the soft tissue of your mouth, you can risk an abscess of the gum pocket. This can pose a threat to your teeth and is quite painful. Infection that has spread to the root of your tooth can also form an abscess. Untreated, an abscess in the gum or root can compromise your bone tissue and cause all kinds of potential threats to your health.

If you experience tooth or jaw pain, inflammation, fever, gum redness, or trouble swallowing, contact Healthy Smile Dental immediately. A possible abscess is a dental emergency and should be given high priority. Never put off a suspected abscess.

Damage to braces

It’s very common to break a bracket or snap a wire or band when you wear braces. If this should happen to you, contact the office and we’ll determine the severity of the situation. You never want to ignore damage to your braces or put it off until you next appointment, but we may be able to wait until regular hours.

The moment you suspect a dental emergency, call Healthy Smile Dental at 630-296-5396. We’ll reach out to Dr. Baek to let her know about the situation, and then we’ll advise you further.

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