Dentist Or Emergency Room? Which is the Right Call?

We’ve all had that heart-stopping moment. Something impacted our face, or we slipped and slammed our chin into something. Our first thought, after ‘ow that hurt!’ is whether or not our teeth were damaged. Usually, we escape misadventure. Other times, our teeth get chipped or cracked. In the worst cases, our teeth may be fractured or even knocked out! In each of these incidents, we may be wondering if it’s time to make a trip to the dentist… Or maybe the emergency room? If you’ve ever had a scary moment like this and wondered which was the right choice, this guide will help you.

Dentist Or Emergency Room? Which is the Right Call?

What to do after a dental accident depends on quite a few factors. Whether or not it’s necessary to go to the emergency room or dentist will be determined by the severity of any injury. There are a few select indications that will let you know which is the right choice to make. A trip to the ER is a necessity when:

  • The jaw has been fractured or dislocated
  • Lacerations to the face and mouth occur
  • Infection or abscess is impacting swallowing or breathing
  • Painful swelling of any portion of the mouth or face

In each of these cases, you’d want to make an immediate trip to the emergency room or call 911. Waiting to go to the dental office is reserved for less severe issues.

Seeing the dentist is the right choice when your concerns aren’t life-threatening. While immediate care may be necessary, a day or two can wait. A tooth or teeth that have become cracked or fractured is one example of something that can call for a trip to the dentist. A tooth that’s knocked out needs immediate attention, but a call to the dentist can get it done. In the event that you’ve had a tooth knocked out, try to put it in a glass of milk, or push it back into place until you see a dentist. Don’t let it dry out; it can often be put back.

An abscessed tooth, or one suffering from decay, may be painful. However, unless it’s beyond tolerable, it can wait until you see your dentist. However, it’s a good idea to make the appointment as soon as you can.

Sensitive teeth often occur when the enamel of the teeth is compromised. Temperature sensitivity isn’t a serious concern in most cases but does need attention. It can be the result of a receding gumline, minor tooth decay, or a loose filling. Special toothpaste for sensitive teeth is available, as are soft toothbrushes. If this doesn’t provide relief, schedule a visit to the general dentist. 

Call Your Dental Office When In Doubt

When you’re in doubt about what to do, give your dental provider a call. They’ll provide you with the best advice available for your next steps. If it’s too late to call your dentist, then you can often call the nurse at the local emergency room. They’ll give you guidance as to whether you should call in or whether it can wait until the next day.

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Dr. Tatiana was born and grew up in former Soviet Republic of Moldavia.
She was educated and trained as a Dentist at Kishinev State Medical University in Kishinev, Moldova. She provided dental care in Kishinev for many years until she met her future husband. She moved to Cheyenne in 1995.

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