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How can you tell if you have a dental emergency—and how should you handle it? All too often, people downplay the severity of dental and oral injuries, infections and other problems. Without seeking immediate emergency dental care, the risks of losing a tooth or suffering from other severe consequences increase dramatically. While your first instinct may be to rush to the emergency room, it is important to note that ERs are not equipped to handle dental emergencies. Further, the costs that are associated with seeking emergency dental care at a hospital emergency room are estimated to be up to 10 times higher than the costs of visiting a dentist.

By understanding the importance of emergency dental care, including knowing which situations warrant seeking such care, you will be better able to respond if and when the time comes. A huge part of being prepared is having the number of a dentist who provides emergency, after-hours care handy. That way, if an emergency occurs, you will know where to turn for help. The faster you can get it, the less likely you are to suffer from more severe dental problems and complications.

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Emergency Dentistry Basics

When facing a medical emergency, it makes sense to head to the nearest emergency room. What about dental emergencies, though? Contrary to what many people believe, the emergency room is not the place to go when facing a dental emergency. Instead, emergency dental services should be sought. In the heat of the moment, however, you may not know who to call. This is why it is so important to have contact information for a qualified emergency dentist handy at all times. By understanding what emergency dentistry entails and how and when to effectively seek it, you may be able to avoid serious complications and other problems due to dental emergencies.

emergency dental procedures Put simply, emergency dentistry is dental care that is provided at any time of the day or night to address serious, time-sensitive injuries, infections and other problems. All too often, people fail to recognize dental emergencies as such, and they put off seeking care until it is too late. For example, when a tooth is fractured or even knocked out entirely, it can often be salvaged when care is sought quickly enough. Without having contact information for emergency dentistry services, care may be delayed to the point where treatment is far less effective than it otherwise would be.

Despite your best efforts, you may end up facing a dental emergency at some point. Will you know what to do? Will you recognize one when you see it? There are things that you can do to avoid dental emergencies, but it is also important to cover your bases in case one occurs. Fractured teeth, tissue injuries, abscesses, infections and other issues should never be put on the back burner. It is crucial to know where to turn for help the instant that a dental emergency happens, so familiarize yourself with what emergency dentistry entails, who performs it, how much it costs, common treatments and tips and tricks for warding it off in the first place to be ready to respond if and when the time comes. 24 Hourly Dentists, has comprehensive network of dentists available to help treat your dental emergency anytime 24/7.

Common Dental Emergencies and Treatments

Like many people, you may be unclear about what constitutes a dental emergency in the first place. If you are ever in doubt, it is better to err on the side of caution. Otherwise, here is a quick breakdown of the most common dental emergencies and corresponding treatment options:

    missing tooth Knocked Out Tooth - Having a tooth knocked out of your mouth is a true dental emergency. This is true even if you aren't in extreme pain because the faster you seek care, the likelier it is that the tooth can be salvaged. After a tooth has been knocked out, pick it up carefully by the top, or crown. Avoid touching the root at all costs. Being careful not to remove any tissue, rinse the tooth and either place it back in the socket, if it will stay put, or put it in a cup of milk. Most importantly of all, contact a dentist who provides emergency dental services right away. Depending on the circumstances, they may be able to put the tooth back, allowing you to avoid more expensive treatments like implants or bridges.

    loose tooth Loose or Misaligned Tooth - Realizing that you have a loose or suddenly misaligned tooth is very disconcerting. If it appears to be in imminent danger of falling out, you are facing a dental emergency and should seek care right away. Otherwise, be careful with it until you can see your dentist. For emergency care, the dentist may opt to stabilize the loose tooth by splinting it to adjacent teeth until a more permanent solution can be made.

    chipped tooth Cracked, Chipped or Fractured Tooth - Unless a chipped tooth is causing you severe pain, it isn't generally considered to be a dental emergency. Chipped teeth can be handled simply by being smoothed out or by using composite filling material to fill it in again. When a tooth is cracked or fractured, its interior structure is damaged. The tooth is at risk of being lost, so this is a dental emergency. In the immediate aftermath, rinse out your mouth with warm water. If there is swelling, apply a cold compress. If there is pain, take acetaminophen but avoid anticoagulants like ibuprofen and aspirin. Seek an emergency dentist right away. If an X-ray reveal that the pulp inside the tooth is damaged, a root canal may be needed. If not, you might just need a crown. A temporary one will be placed until a custom one can be produced by a lab. If the tooth can't be salvaged, an implant or a bridge may be required.

    chipped tooth Pain when Biting Down - If you are experiencing pain when biting down, there may be an abscess, which is a dental emergency. In fact, when they become infected badly enough, abscesses can be life threatening. An emergency dentist may opt to perform the first stage of a root canal to stabilize you, or you may be referred to an endodontist who can drain the tooth and perform a root canal if needed.

    chipped tooth Tissue Injuries and Facial Pain - Injuries to the soft tissue of the mouth, tongue, lips or cheek often qualify as dental emergencies. These include things like tears, punctures and lacerations. Immediately clean the area with warm water, and apply pressure with gauze if it is bleeding. Seek emergency dental services right away.

Typical Costs of Emergency Dental Services

It's normal to be concerned about the cost of emergency dental care. However, never let concerns about costs keep you from seeking such care, as you could end up with a much more expensive and serious problem. By researching emergency dentists ahead of time or checking with your current dentist, you can make sure that you have access to affordable emergency dental services if and when they are needed.

Emergency dental costs vary widely. If you need an emergency root canal and don't have insurance, the average cost is around $1,150 for front teeth and $950 for back teeth. With insurance, it averages around $600 for front teeth and $330 for back teeth. If a dental crown must be placed, the average cost with insurance is around $600 while the average cost without insurance is around $1,100. These costs are still far lower than the costs that are associated with visiting the ER, which are estimated to be around 10 times as expensive.

Considerations to Make when Seeking an Emergency Dentist

The main issue that people have when it comes to seeking emergency dental care is uncertainty about whether or not they are dealing with an actual emergency. If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure about whether or not you should seek emergency dental services, keep the following in mind.

You should seek emergency dental care if:

    1Immediate treatment is needed to save a tooth that has been knocked out, cracked or fractured

    2 You are bleeding from the mouth.

    3 You are in severe pain.

    4 You have been hit in the mouth or face.

    5 There are knots, bulges or swelling in the gums.

    6 There is swelling or the mouth or face.

Emergency Dental Care Tip

While you should see your dentist for the following issues, they don't generally constitute a dental emergency: issues with a temporary restoration like a crown; a small chip in the tooth that isn't causing pain; a tooth that is slightly loose or misaligned but not in imminent danger of falling out; or sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages.

There are things that you can do to minimize the risk of needing emergency dental care. Keep these tips in mind to reduce the risk of having to contact an emergency dentist at some point in the future:

    check Routine Dental Care - Keep up with your routine dental care. Brush and floss your teeth two times per day, and use a fluoride mouthwash to keep decay at bay. Visit the dentist at least two times per year for routine checkups. Oftentimes, routine examinations reveal problems while they are still minor and easy to correct. Your dentist will also perform X-rays at least one time per year, and they can reveal potential issues that can be easily managed before spiraling out of control.

    check Avoid Chewing Hard Foods - As tempting as it may be, avoid chomping down on hard things. People often crack or fracture their teeth on things like ice and hard candies, so avoid doing so at all costs. Always think before you bite.

    check Protect Your Mouth While Playing Sports - If you play a sport like soccer, basketball, football or hockey, reduce the risk of being injured by wearing a mouth guard.

    check Never Use Your Teeth to Open Things - When trying to open bags and other things, you may find yourself attempting to do so with your teeth. This is a surefire way to damage them, so resist the urge and reach for the scissors instead.

    check Visit the Dentist Before Long Trips Away from Home - Prior to embarking on a long trip away from home, visit your regular dentist. They can check to make sure that there is no decay and that any restorations that you have are in good shape. This will greatly reduce the risk of facing a dental emergency while away from home.

Finally, keep an emergency dental kit ready to go in case something happens. Stock it with a clean washcloth or handkerchief, gauze, acetaminophen and, most importantly of all, contact information for a local dentist who provides emergency dental care.

Where Can You Turn for Emergency Dental Services?

The first place to look for emergency dental services is your own dentist. Many dentists who run family practices or general dentistry practices are also available for emergency dental care. Most of the time, the dentist has an answering service that is available to take calls on a 24/7 basis. If you are a patient of the dentist and need emergency dental care, the answering service will take your call and then contact the dentist on your behalf. In other words, you most likely won't have a "direct line" to the dentist, but you should be able to get in touch with them without too much trouble.

What happens if your current dentist does not offer emergency dental services? You don't necessarily have to switch dentists, but having to contact a different dentist is far less convenient. Still, if you like the care that you receive from your regular dentist but they don't offer emergency services, you can always find another dentist in the area who provides it. If you are not a current patient of theirs, however, you may run into trouble when you need help, so schedule an appointment to officially become a patient if need be.

In most areas, many general and family dentists are available for emergency dental services regardless of whether you are a current patient or not. This should be your last option, as it usually costs a bit more to get emergency care from someone who isn't your regular dentist. Still, having the name and number of a few places in the area that offer around-the-clock emergency dental services is never a bad idea. If you have dental insurance, make sure that any emergency dentists who you consider accept it. You might also contact them and find out if any other payment options are available.


Caitlin Batchelor, What is the Hospital Cost of a Dental Emergency?; 7/25/2014

Average Cost of Dental Procedures with and without Insurance; accessed 2/8/2017

Tammy Davenport, Emergency Dental Care: Are You Ready for a Dental Emergency?; accessed 2/8/2017

Katelynne Shepard, Do You Need Emergency Dental Care?; accessed 2/8/2017