What Constitutes a True Dental Emergency?

These days, it is tough to know who is open for what kind of business, which places to avoid, and which places are safe.  One thing we do know for sure, regardless of the state of our nation, state, or local region, dental emergencies will happen.  Another thing that is certain is that no matter what manner of lockdown we are under, dentists are providing treatment and care for true dental emergencies.

We do this for a few reasons: 1) we are the most qualified to care for dental emergencies, and 2) we can prevent people from seeking care at the emergency room, increasing both traffic and risk levels there.

Why is This Information Relevant Now?

This information is important for everyone to understand and share with loved ones.  As we begin reopening dental practices for patient care, there are some people who may remain wary of seeking dental treatment for quite some time after most offices re-open.  This is a wise decision for those who may be at high risk for complications from COVID-19 infection.  For this reason, you should know when it is absolutely necessary to seek dental care!

What is a Dental Emergency?

A true dental emergency involves any dental problem with the potential to be life threatening.  This is a pretty limited category, and the only problems falling into it are uncontrollable bleeding, a spreading dental infection, and trauma to the mouth that could affect the airway.  Anyone experiencing these true emergency symptoms should seek emergency help immediately.  The risk to your life is much higher than any risk posed by COVID-19 infection.

There are also urgent dental conditions that require treatment as soon as possible to relieve pain and prevent worsening of the issue.  These include a wider range of dental problems and do necessitate a dental visit in the very near future.  This list is not comprehensive, but it will give you a good idea of which things need to be addressed quickly.

  • Severe toothache pain, unrelieved by pain reliever or antibiotic medication
  • Cracked teeth
  • Trauma that knocks a tooth out of the mouth
  • Trauma that exposes the internal nerve chamber of the tooth
  • Swelling or infection around a new wisdom tooth
  • Dental infection of either tooth or gums with localized gum swelling
  • A biopsy of potentially cancerous lesion in the mouth
  • Placement of a final crown restoration when the temporary one is lost or causing problems

All of these issues are legitimate reasons to seek urgent dental care.  If you or a loved one have one of these dental problems, call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location right away to schedule a visit.

When Should I Call the Dentist?

In general, you need to call a dental office when you experience an urgent dental problem as listed above or when you are not sure whether your condition needs urgent attention.  Many patients have urgent problems without experiencing severe pain or other symptoms.  When in doubt, call us to discuss your issue.  Often, we can determine the urgency of your problem with a phone consultation and/or sharing digital photos of the area of concern.

When you do come in for urgent or even routine dental care, expect some changes in our offices.  We are following strict protocols to do our part to flatten the curve and prevent COVID-19 transmission.  We ask for your patient cooperation with our new policies and procedures.  Our ultimate goal is your overall health and safety.

When Should I Go to the Emergency Room?

In the cases of true dental emergencies, you do need to seek care at an emergency room medical facility.  This is imperative to stop the spread of life-threatening infections in the head and neck, to keep your airway open for breathing, and to stop uncontrollable bleeding.  These true emergencies are outside the realm of general dental practice and require treatment by an emergency physician or an oral surgeon.  Most hospitals have oral surgeons on staff to see patients who come in with oral and maxillofacial emergencies.

Patients with minor swellings and toothaches should NOT seek care at the emergency room at this time.  In order to reduce the burden on medical personnel and reduce patient traffic in the hospitals, you should only resort to the emergency room in one of the above situations.  For all other dental concerns, call us as soon as possible.

More Questions about Urgent Dental Care at This Time?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location to learn the specific details about how each individual office is managing urgent dental problems and planning the re-opening for routine patient care.