How to Handle a Dental Emergency

Woman holding her mouth in pain due to a dental emergency.

Even with the best in preventative care, dental emergencies can still happen and they’re never convenient. A tooth might get knocked out or broken during a game, an annoying toothache could start throbbing, or a stubborn mouth sore just won’t go away. No matter what’s going on, whether it’s you or your child, all you want is to feel better, but wondering if your dentist is open, how soon you can get in, or how far you’ll have to drive can make an already stressful situation worse.

At Dental Depot of DFW, we understand the stress and hassle of dental emergencies, and we know they usually don’t happen at the most convenient times. Whether you’re a current patient or are brand new to our practice, we’re prepared to deliver the best emergency dental care and treatment, no matter what you’re dealing with or when it happens, and we can often schedule emergency appointments on the same day.

What a Dental Emergency Is…

A dental emergency is an event that immediately jeopardizes the health of some element of your oral cavity. In other words, if you don’t get treatment right now (that is, within the next few hours), you might experience lasting effects from the injury.

The most common type of dental emergency is a lost or dislodged adult tooth. Usually, this happens due to a sudden blow to the face that knocks a tooth out (or loosens it, which is equally urgent). Other dental emergencies include:

  • Infection or abscess, which is a pocket of puss that has developed in a tooth and created an infection. This can cause sensitivity, swelling, acute pain, or persistent toothache and the infection can spread into surrounding tissue if it isn’t treated.
  • Facial trauma, including severe pain and bleeding from the mouth or swelling in the gums and face.

What isn’t a Dental Emergency

However, not all dental accidents are necessarily an emergency. An urgent dental injury requires attention, but poses little to no immediate threat to your health and can wait until the first available appointment. 

Examples of urgent dental problems include:

  • A loose or missing filling or crown  
  • Recurrent pain in a tooth that is only getting worse or doesn’t respond to over-the-counter treatments
  • A cracked or chipped tooth, depending on the severity. If you’re bleeding from the site of the injury, the pain is very severe, or if a large portion of the tooth is gone, consider it an emergency.

How to Handle a Dental Emergency

If you or someone near you experiences a dental emergency, follow these 4 steps before heading to the dentist:

  1. Stop any bleeding. Apply steady pressure to the wound to reduce blood flow and assist the body in creating a clot over the area. You can bite down on a piece of cold, moistened gauze to apply pressure while keeping your hands free.
  2. Call your dentist. Explain over the phone what has happened so that they can advise you on what to do next. They will be able to tell you whether your accident qualifies as an emergency, and if so, they will make space for you to be seen right away. They can also give you guidance on what to do in the meantime.
  3. Locate any lost teeth. If you notice that there are missing teeth, try to find them, and when you do, do not pick them up by the roots—pick up any teeth by the crown (the top, biting surface) and put them in a glass of milk. The chemical makeup of milk is closer to the mouth than water and will help the inside of the tooth to stay alive long enough for the dentist to reattach it. If a tooth has fallen out, also pack the tooth socket with gauze, a cotton ball, or a tea bag.

Similarly, locate, rinse, and save any pieces of a chipped or broken tooth, if possible.

  1. Manage pain. In addition to taking over-the-counter pain medications as recommended, you can also apply a cold compress to the face in the area where the pain is the most severe. Wrap the cold item (such as an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables) in a towel to prevent harming your skin. Apply cold for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off to help reduce swelling, pain, and discomfort.

If you need to eat in between when the accident has occurred and when the dentist can see you, make sure to avoid hard, sharp, or crunchy foods. Stick to soft items without texture, such as pudding or milk, where possible so that errant food particles do not get stuck inside wounds.

Getting Emergency Dental Care

Dental offices like Dental Depot of DFW that provide emergency dental services will typically take walk-in and call-ahead emergency appointments, but be aware that they must be added into an existing schedule, so even same-day and emergency appointments will have some wait time. However, you can rest assured that if you are there for emergency care, you will be seen by a dentist as soon as possible to determine the next course of action.

You usually don’t have to be a current patient of the dental practice to receive emergency care, but if you are a new patient, you will need to provide a state-issued photo ID and any insurance information (if applicable). Guardians will be required to provide an ID for a minor patient.

The cost of seeing an emergency dentist will vary depending on what happened, what steps are required to fix the issue, and how much your insurance will cover (if you have insurance). However, there are many ways to afford emergency care, and treatment is often necessary to preserve your oral and overall health.

If you have dental insurance, most policies will include some coverage for dental emergencies. However, be aware that unlike preventive services, which are typically covered at or near 100%, dental insurance may require you to meet your deductible as part of your emergency dental bill. 

Those without dental insurance also have options. In addition to providing affordable services, emergency dental providers like Dental Depot will also generally offer financing or pay-over-time options to reduce the financial burden. If you are paying in cash instead of with insurance, some offices can provide a lower price for the convenience.

Let Dental Depot of DFW Take Care of Your Dental Emergencies

Nearly all dental emergencies can be remedied, and they are rarely life-threatening. Though injuries can be painful, there is no need to panic. The team at Dental Depot of DFW will do everything we can to see you as soon as possible and get you back on the road to recovery.

With seven locations throughout the DFW metro area, Dental Depot of DFW has an office nearby no matter when your dental emergency occurs. And, thanks to state-of-the-art facilities, advanced technology, and a complete staff of general dentists and specialists, we can treat almost any kind of dental emergency in-house. From replacing restorations to root canals and full mouth reconstructions, Dental Depot of DFW has you and your family covered in the event of a dental emergency. Contact us today for more information!


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