Dental emergencies happen when you least expect it, and scrambling to find care can be almost as stressful as the injury itself. Where is the nearest dentist? Are you already a patient? When can you be seen? How are you going to pay for it?
No one plans for dental emergencies, but with Monarch Dental, there is always an emergency dentist near you. New or existing patients, walk-ins or call-ahead appointments, Monarch Dental is ready with emergency dental services when and where you need them, and we accept most major dental insurance plans, so the care you need is also affordable.
At Monarch Dental, we treat every emergency dental patient with the time, compassion, and professionalism they deserve. If immediate treatment is necessary, we’ll do everything we can to get you seen as quickly as possible. If the problem can wait, we’ll be sure to schedule you for our next available appointment, sometimes as early as same-day.
Dental Emergencies vs. Urgent Dental Injuries
Dental emergencies aren’t the same as urgent dental injuries. Knowing the difference can help make sure you seek the right treatment at the right time.
Is it a dental emergency?
A dental emergency is any injury or dental issue that involves uncontrollable bleeding or pain, tooth loss, or life-threatening infections.
Dental emergencies demand immediate care and you should be seen by a dentist as soon as possible.
Here are some common dental emergencies, how are they treated, and some steps you can take to improve your outcomes.
Knocked-out tooth, when a tooth has been completely separated from the jawbone.
- Treatment: If a dentist can replace the lost tooth within an hour, there is a better chance the tooth can be saved. If the tooth can be replaced, a wire or small splint may be placed around it to keep it stable for a few weeks while the tooth fuses back to the gums and jaw.
- What you can do: Hold the tooth by the crown and avoid touching the tooth by the roots, since this could expose the root to bacteria and cause an infection. You can use cold water to clean the tooth off, but don’t dry it, and you can rinse your mouth with saltwater to keep the exposed socket clean. Place the tooth in a glass of milk until you can take it with you to the dentist. You can also use Save-a-Tooth solution, which is available in most pharmacies or grocery stores.
Infection, typically in the tooth root and referred to as a dental abscess. In addition to causing severe pain, dental abscesses can spread to the jawbone, nearby teeth, gums, or even the bloodstream if not treated properly.
- Treatment: The dentist will drain the abscess and clean out the infection. If the tooth can be saved, the dentist will likely perform a root canal. If the infection is too bad or the tooth too decayed, it will need to be pulled.
- What you can do: Use an ice pack, cold compress, and over-the-counter pain medication to reduce swelling and discomfort, and avoid very hard, chewy, or crunchy foods. If you are also experiencing a fever with your pain, it is important to seek emergency dental help as soon as possible. If the pain is easily managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and you do not have a fever, you can call your dentist first thing in the morning for a first-available appointment.
Facial trauma, oral injuries, or excessive bleeding as the result of an accident, including severe scrapes and cuts, bleeding from the mouth, and/or swelling in the gums or around the mouth.
- Treatment: Your first stop should be to a hospital emergency room to get any bleeding under control, have external wounds treated, and be evaluated for any internal damage or injuries like a head injury. From there, you can be referred to an emergency dentist for dental-specific problems.
- What you can do: Use gauze in your mouth to staunch or slow the bleeding. You can also use cold compresses to reduce swelling and over-the-counter medication to alleviate pain.
While dental emergencies can be scary, most can be treated fairly quickly and are rarely life-threatening. If you find yourself with a dental emergency, remember to stay calm, do what you can to minimize pain and bleeding, and seek treatment as soon as possible at an emergency dentist near you.
Is it an urgent dental injury?
An urgent dental injury poses a small risk to your overall health, but can still be painful and still needs treatment.
Urgent dental injuries can wait until the first available appointment with your dentist to be treated.
Common urgent dental injuries include:
Lost or broken crown. A lost or broken crown may cause pain and redness in the exposed tissue, but it is not an emergency. It should, however, be treated soon to prevent infection or further damage to the tooth and surrounding oral tissues.
- Treatment: If you were able to save the crown and it is still in good condition, the dentist may be able to clean the tooth and reattach the crown. If the crown is lost or damaged, the dentist will need to make a new one. A temporary crown will be placed on your tooth in the meantime.
- What you can do: If you’re able to save the crown, keep it in a clean, safe place until you can make it to the next available appointment with your dentist. Regular rinsing with water and using over-the-counter pain medication can help with any soreness.
Damaged or lost filling. In a similar way to a broken crown, a lost filling is not an immediate dental emergency, but it should still be treated with care. The tooth may be sensitive and, without its filling, the tooth is now more susceptible to bacteria and tooth decay.
- Treatment: After taking an x-ray, the dentist will determine if the filling can be replaced, or if you will need a root canal or crown to ensure the tooth’s integrity. If a lost or failed filling is not treated within a week, it could lead to more extensive tooth decay, infection, or the need for additional dental procedures in order to fix it.
- What you can do: Try to keep the area as clean as possible with a saltwater rinse and use over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatories for discomfort until you’re able to see a dentist. Be gentle while brushing the tooth, and try to avoid chewing with it. You can also use numbing gel or an ice pack to reduce pain.
Loose or broken braces. Braces are cumbersome at best, but breaking a wire or a bracket on braces can be downright painful and uncomfortable. Repairing your braces can wait for the next appointment, but don’t wait too long to contact your orthodontist; not fixing your broken braces or wires can not only cause more irritation in your mouth, but it can also add weeks or even months onto your treatment time.
- Treatment: You’ll need a trip to the orthodontist to repair your braces. You may need a wire replaced or to have a bracket re-cemented on.
- What you can do: While you wait for an orthodontist or dentist to reattach the broken braces, you can place orthodontic wax over sharp pieces to prevent it from further irritating your gums or mouth. As with most dental injuries, avoid hard, crunchy, and chewy foods and be careful when you brush so you don’t cause more issues with your braces.
Cracked, chipped, or broken tooth. Although it’s not an emergency, a broken tooth can be traumatic and embarrassing. Moreover, cracks, chips, or breaks in your tooth compromise its integrity, make it weaker, and put it at greater risk for more damage or future tooth decay.
- Treatment: A cracked, chipped, or broken tooth can be treated with cosmetic dental procedures like bonding, veneers, or crowns. Your dentist will evaluate your tooth, including the extent of the damage and the overall health of the tooth, to determine which option is best for you.
- What you can do: Be sure to save any pieces of your tooth and put them in a cup of milk or Save-a-Tooth solution while you wait for your next available appointment with your dentist. You’ll need to keep your mouth and teeth clean but be careful when you brush to prevent further damage and to minimize any sensitivity.
Lingering mouth pain or toothache. Temporary discomfort or sensitivity is normal immediately following a dental procedure, but persistent mouth pain, toothaches, or soreness can be a sign that there is something else wrong going on in your mouth. Be sure to contact your dentist and schedule an appointment for as soon as possible.
- Treatment: The dentist will take an x-ray of your mouth and complete an exam to try and determine what is causing your pain and what your next course of action should be.
- What you can do: Treat pain with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, oral numbing gels, or ice packs. You can also help make sure your mouth stays clean from food particles by rinsing regularly with a saltwater solution. Monitor any symptoms you notice along with toothaches; if a fever develops, you may have a dental abscess, an infection that requires emergency dental care.
Just because they aren’t emergencies doesn’t mean urgent dental injuries don’t need treatment. With multiple retail locations, flexible scheduling, and extended hours, Monarch Dental makes it easy to get treatment for urgent dental injuries. Find your nearest location here.
Emergency Dental Care at Monarch Dental
Monarch Dental is your family’s partner for comprehensive dental services, including emergency care. We believe everyone deserves convenient, affordable, quality dental care, no matter what their situation. Every location is fully staffed and easy to find, and with flexible financing and payment options as well as our own OneSmile dental plan, we offer patients even more opportunities to afford the emergency dental care they need. Find a Monarch Dental location near you for more information.