No one wants to deal with a dental emergency, but the fact is that they can and do happen. Adults and children can experience the sudden pain, bleeding, and swelling of a tooth injury or gum laceration and need emergency services. Or maybe you’ve simply lost a dental restoration and are experiencing tooth sensitivity and discomfort and can’t wait to be seen.
Regardless of why you need to seek emergency dental care, it’s always a good idea to see an actual dentist if you can. If you go to the emergency room, you not only won’t see a dentist, but you also likely won’t get the problem completely fixed. Here’s why to choose professionals for your urgent dental care if possible.
Emergency Departments Can’t Always Fix Dental Problems
In the United States alone, there are two million visits every year to hospital emergency departments for dental pain. Some people who seek emergency services don’t have dental insurance and so don’t follow up with a dentist to address their pain for fear of having to pay out-of-pocket for care.
However, emergency departments are generally for medical emergencies, not dental emergencies. Not only will the doctor you see at the emergency room not have specialized education and training in dentistry, but they also won’t have the tools to fix the problem in most cases.
For example, your dental pain may require a root canal, extraction, or filling—procedures only your dentist can provide. Your emergency room visit will likely only result in medication for an infection, if applicable, and anti-inflammatory or pain medication, but it won’t fix the problem definitively. Your physician at the hospital will ask you to follow up with your dentist to resolve the issue.
Dentists Can Provide the Level of Care You Need
Although having medical insurance may help cover some of your emergency room bill, it may not cover all of it. In addition, an emergency room bill may cost significantly more than getting the problem fixed at your local dentist’s office. So you may end up with a large bill and still not have the problem fixed.
By seeking professional care at your local Asheville dental practice in the first place, you can avoid long wait times at the emergency room, address the problem with the right professional, and even work out a payment plan with your dentist in the event that you don’t have dental insurance and are worried about the cost of your treatment.
Going to the emergency room adds an extra step to your care that can often result in wasted time and money without getting the actual problem fixed. If you can, skip the emergency room and go to your dentist. Most dentists offer emergency appointments, often outside of normal business hours.
In addition, seeing a dentist can ensure that you have a better continuity of care. What this means is that, unlike an ER physician, your dentist doesn’t just help you manage the problem and send you home. Your dentist is your partner in taking the best care of your smile and can help you take the best care of your teeth over the long term.
Going to the emergency room not only may not result in the issue not getting fixed, but the physicians there aren’t able to provide you with continuing dental care and advice for your smile, two things you need to keep your teeth healthy and bright for life.
When Going to the Emergency Room Is the Right Choice
For some dental emergencies, the emergency room may be your best—or only—option. For example, if you have severe pain in the middle of the night that simply can’t wait until the morning, or if you have a broken jaw from a car accident, fall, or sports injury.
Some oral infections can also be life-threatening, so if you believe you have a severe tooth infection or gum infection, seek emergency care as soon as possible, whether it’s calling your dentist or going to the emergency room. Symptoms of a severe oral infection can include:
- A high fever
- Severe pain that feels like it’s radiating out to your jaw, ear, or neck
- Severe tooth sensitivity
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Trouble breathing
Going to the emergency room would allow you to get life-saving antibiotics or treatment for an injury until you can follow up with your regular dentist during normal business hours.
Problems that typically don’t require immediate attention include a cracked tooth, tooth decay, sensitive teeth, or a missing or broken dental crown. However, still contact your dentist to book a regular appointment if you are experiencing any of these problems.
What Else Constitutes a Dental Emergency?
A dental emergency can involve any problem with your teeth or gums that’s causing severe pain, bleeding, swelling, or even bodily symptoms like the ones mentioned above. A good way to tell if something is a dental emergency is if you feel like it cannot wait for a regular appointment the next day or in a few days.
For example, if you have a filling fall out and are experiencing mild pain and tooth sensitivity, it may be ok to wait until your dentist can see you that week to get the problem fixed. However, if you have a knocked-out tooth, a severe tooth infection, or a cut on your gums that requires stitches, these are problems that need to be treated immediately.
Should you ever have any doubt about whether or not what you’re experiencing is a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to call your dentist. Some dentists also have a hotline where you can speak to a professional after-hours to determine what your next steps should be.
We See Patients for Dental Emergencies
At Saunders DDS, we believe you should never have to wait to be seen when experiencing a dental emergency. We see patients for dental emergencies and make every effort to accommodate adults and children who need to be seen as soon as possible. Contact Saunders DDS today to learn more about our emergency dental services or book an appointment at (828) 277-6060.
If you have an emergency dental problem, you have no option but to rely on the emergency dentist nearest you to call Saunders DDS at (828) 277-6060 today!