Are You Experiencing a Dental Emergency? Here’s What You Need to Know

No one expects to find themselves dealing with an urgent dental problem, but having access to emergency dentistry services — and knowing how to take care of a cracked tooth, a lost crown, or a painful abscess before you reach the office — can make a big difference in your treatment outcome. 

At Smiles in Springfield, we offer same-day urgent care visits for dental emergencies that just can’t wait for a regularly scheduled appointment. On top of getting you in the chair as soon as possible, our team also provides concrete, over-the-phone advice to help you ease your pain, reduce oral irritation, and keep your problem under control until you receive proper treatment. 

Here’s how to know when you’re in the midst of a dental emergency, and what kind of self-care strategies can help you manage your problem on the way to our office.   

Dental emergencies defined

Because oral pain is just one possible indicator of an urgent dental problem, it’s important to recognize the other symptoms and conditions that call for prompt attention. As with all serious medical problems, being able to recognize when you’re in the midst of a dental emergency is your first step toward getting proper care. 

Common dental emergencies include:

Simply put, any acute oral injury or pain that you can’t effectively treat or relieve on your own qualifies as a dental emergency. 

Important self-care measures

Administering the right self-care measures at the onset of a dental emergency can substantially improve your treatment outcome, especially if you’re dealing with a time-sensitive problem like a knocked-out adult tooth.

With that in mind, here are the urgent dental problems we see most often in our office, and the self-care strategies we typically recommend: 

Severe toothache

An unrelenting toothache is usually the product of long-standing dental decay or an infection (abscess) in the root of a tooth, either of which requires immediate treatment.  

After you call our office for a same-day appointment, you can soothe the area (and rinse away any food particles that may be trapped between your teeth and gums) by gently swishing warm water in your mouth. Holding a cold compress over the area can also provide gentle relief.  

If you decide to take an over-the-counter pain reliever, opt for ibuprofen over aspirin, as aspirin can increase the rate and degree of bleeding should you require an extraction or a tooth-saving root canal.  

Chipped or cracked teeth 

Self-care for a chipped or cracked tooth is similar to self-care for a severe toothache — soothe the area with a gentle warm-water rinse and/or a cold compress, and take a dose of ibuprofen (not aspirin) to relieve significant pain. 

To protect your tooth from further damage, avoid chewing on that side of your mouth, and stick to soft foods or liquids until it can be repaired. If part of your tooth has broken off, you can place the missing fragment in a container with some water; depending on the circumstances, we may be able to reattach it to your tooth.   

Loose or lost dental work

Loose or lost crowns, fillings, or dental bonding don’t always require same-day care, but they should still be treated promptly to keep food, bacteria, and germs out of the exposed area. 

 If you can’t see us for a few days, you can use an over-the-counter temporary filling material to seal an exposed cavity and protect your tooth from further decay and infection. You can also use over-the-counter dental cement to temporarily secure a loose crown. Make sure your tooth is clean before applying either product.  

Knocked-out permanent tooth

When a healthy adult tooth is knocked out of place, prompt action can mean the difference between saving your natural tooth or winding up with a dental implant replacement.  

To keep your tooth as viable as possible, rinse it gently, set it in a clean container, and immerse it in milk, saliva, or water — keeping it moist is key to keeping it alive. Then, head directly to our office so we can determine whether your tooth can be successfully reattached. 

Urgent dental care you can count on

Taking good care of your oral health by brushing twice a day, flossing thoroughly, and having regular dental exams can go a long way toward preventing the kind of excessive decay and severe infection that precipitate many dental emergencies. 

Unfortunately, some dental emergencies can’t be avoided, even with stellar preventive care. If you find yourself facing an urgent dental problem, call our Springfield, Virginia, office at 703-634-4239 right away to schedule your same-day appointment. For your other dental care needs, you can also send our team a message here on the website. We’re here to help!

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