Seeing an Emergency Dentist

By: Dr. Andrew Wasik, Aug 01, 2012

When should I see an emergency dentist?

What types of situations are considered dental emergencies?

When you have a dental emergency like a toothache, lost crown or filling, or a tooth that has been chipped or broken, seeing your dentist becomes the most important item on your agenda. But what happens if your dentist doesn’t have an immediate opening in their agenda? That’s when you need an emergency dentist.

What is an emergency dentist?

Typically an emergency dentist doesn’t only handle urgent cases. Any general dentist or dental specialist that performs diagnosis, treatment, or provides relief for a time-sensitive dental issues could be considered an emergency dentist. The difference is that an emergency dentist will have the availability to see you right away, while your general dentist may be too busy for you.

What types of situations are considered dental emergencies?

If you are experiencing any of these conditions, it is recommended that you contact an emergency dentist:

  • A toothache
  • A chipped, broken or knocked-out tooth
  • A lost crown or filling
  • Acute sensitivity
  • Pain, swelling or infection in your mouth, jaw, face or neck area
  • Any other dental issue that is causing you discomfort

What can I expect during an emergency dental appointment?

The primary goal of your visit to an emergency dentist will be to relieve the discomfort you’re feeling. The dentist will observe the condition of your mouth, diagnose the problem and advise you of your options for resolving it. This may involve:

  • Taking a couple of x-rays
  • Observing and identifying the problem
  • Relieving pain and discomfort by prescribing painkillers or antibiotics (in the case of infection)
  • Smoothing sharp edges of broken teeth
  • Placing a temporary filling
  • Re-cementing a dental crown, if possible
  • Discussing further options with you and discussing a plan for complete treatment
  • Arranging a referral to a specialist, if needed

Your emergency appointment will be thorough enough to relieve you of your discomfort, and at times simple treatment can be provided, but final treatment shouldn’t be expected and a follow-up appointment may be required.

What should I do if...

A tooth has been knocked out:

  • Contact an emergency dentist immediately. Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
  • Rinse the tooth in cool water, but don’t wipe / scrub i
  • If possible, gently place the tooth in the socket and hold it there until you see your dentist
  • Otherwise, place the tooth in a glass of cold milk (preferred) or water, or gently wrap it in a clean wet cloth
  • Get to your emergency dental clinic immediately

A tooth has been broken / chipped:

  • Contact an emergency dentist right away
  • Try to save any fragments of the tooth, which may sometimes be bonded back in place
  • Place a cold compress over the injured area to prevent swelling
  • See your emergency dentists as soon as possible

I have a toothache:

  • The most common cause of a toothache is a deep cavity, or recent or past trauma resulting in a dying nerve in the tooth
  • Other reasons for a toothache may include the failure of previous root canal treatment, a cracked tooth, sensitivity from decay, periodontal (gum) abscess, severe clenching, or a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problem
  • Call your emergency dentist, to be seen as soon as possible for diagnosis and relief

I have a dark tooth after being bumped / knocked:

  • The tooth’s discolouration is likely from a broken blood vessel, much like a bruise anywhere else on your body
  • This very often results in the nerve of the tooth dying, which requires root canal therapy
  • It’s advised that you visit an emergency dentist for diagnosis and treatment

If you are ever feeling pain or discomfort that’s affecting your teeth, gums, mouth, jaw, face or neck and it may be attributed to a dental issue, it’s always advised that you have an emergency dentist check and diagnose your condition. These issues may get worse if not treated.

Dr. Andrew Wasik has been practicing general and cosmetic dentistry for over 25 years and provides dentistry with a personal and caring approach that his clients appreciate.

His passion for excellence, lifelong commitment to continuing education, and use of technology has earned him lasting relationships with his clients. Being a “dentophobic” patient himself, his goal is to provide a comfortable and stress-free environment for his patients. For more info please visit his website here.