Have you ever noticed that stomach bugs, broken bones and contagious diseases always seem to happen after hours? The same seems to happen with toothache. While you may have plenty of time to book in to see your normal dentist if you can feel a cavity coming on, with broken crowns, knocked teeth and sudden onset dental pain you need treatment immediately not in a few days’ time.
What Is A Dental Emergency?
While most dental surgeries are genuinely booked up for days if not weeks in advance, they will usually be able to make room for emergency dentistry for families. However, for all other situations, or after you have had the initial bleeding stemmed, you should see your dentist.
If you have sever dental pain caused by a traumatic injury that has resulted in a loss of blood (or bleeding that hasn’t stopped), teeth that have been pushed up into the gums, or been pushed out completely or injuries that have caused damage to checks, tongue or any other part of your face or jawline, you should first see hospital emergency department to stop any trauma. You may also need to see your GP for certain medical related conditions including certain infections.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that the toothache you simply can’t bear any more is going to get you a priority appointment, as emergency dentistry is really for serious injury and immediate problems.
While most dentists will absolutely try to find a spot in their appointment schedule to fit in someone suffering, they will generally put priority to someone who will lose their tooth or be hospitalized if treatment is not received immediately. Although Maryland has a better ratio of patients to dentist than most other states, Greenbelt dentists still see over 1,300 patients every year (see here)!
What If You Can’t See Your Normal Dentist?
If your dental emergency can not wait, but doesn’t warrant a visit to the hospital, sometimes no matter how much your normal dental surgery tries to move things around, that day they just do not have any wriggle room. This is where you will need to ask for a recommendation about what you should do.
They may be able to get you in to be triaged by a nurse for further assessment, or they may be able to recommend another dental practice that has been able to assist them with emergency overflow in the past. As a last resort they may recommend you visit a hospital or emergency clinic.
Emergencies With Children
It is a terrifying experience as a parent when your child has a medical emergency, and teeth, like headwounds, often look significantly worse than they really are. However, you should always get children’s teeth seen after any trauma. Often parents will disregard a dental issue that has occurred in a younger child if they still have their baby teeth. Unfortunately, this can cause problems when their adult teeth start to grow in.
It is certainly not uncommon for toddlers that are just learning to walk to fall and end up with blood in their mouth, and while for the vast majority this is just another minor bump in the world of childhood injuries, for some it can result in quite serious dental trauma. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5421107/
It is vital that you stay as calm as possible, if your child is hysterical see if someone else is able to drive you to emergency services while you sit with them. Follow standard first aid treatment, but if their teeth have moved into their gums, are sitting lower, have come out completely (and weren’t wiggly baby teeth beforehand), or have moved significantly sideways, this would constitute a dental emergency.
Although it is tempted to go into the dental surgery with all guns blazing demanding attention for your child, this will usually just increase their level of anxiety. Remaining calm and explaining to the receptionist why you need an emergency appointment will go a long way towards reassuring your child.
Your dentist will be concerned with not only looking after their teeth but trying to ensure that they don’t develop any long-term anxiety or fear about coming back to the dentist, so listen to their advice. If they suggest that you sit outside, or that you hold your child’s hand, take their advice unless you have really good reason not to.