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Should I Go to the Emergency Room for a Dental Emergency?

added on: September 24, 2014 | By: Dr. Bilal Saib

dental emergencyAt my dental office in Chapel Hill, we are asked this question a lot. There are some injuries that absolutely require you to head straight to the hospital. However, the majority of dental problems should be seen by a dentist. But how do you know which is which?

Basically, the type of injury dictates where you should head to get treated. Before you decide where you should go to get treated, it’s important to know which type of injury is usually seen at a hospital and which is seen by your Chapel Hill dentist.

Trauma or Life-Threatening Injuries

If you’re dealing with a trauma to the face or mouth, or if the injury is, or could be, life-threatening, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention at your nearest hospital. Some of the most common types of injuries that require emergency care are:

  • Jaw fracture/dislocation
  • Deep lacerations to the soft tissues in the mouth or to the face
  • An abscess or infection that’s swollen and affecting breathing/swallowing

These dental problems are absolutely appropriate to have treated in the emergency room. In fact, we highly recommend heading to the hospital as soon as you can or calling 911 if one of these injuries is present. At the hospital, you’ll be evaluated and treated. When you’re released, the doctor may recommend that you see your dentist as a follow up. This appointment is extremely important, making sure your smile is returned to health and strength.

Minor Dental Emergencies

Although some minor dental emergencies can be painful, they should not be seen at the hospital. In fact, your dentist is the most qualified and best equipped to help relieve the pain associated with the injury and fix the problem. Some injuries that fall into this category are:

  • Broken or cracked teeth
  • A knocked out tooth
  • Toothache pain caused by decay or abscess

These types of dental emergencies are not life-threatening, but that doesn’t make the need for immediate care any less important. If you’re experiencing one of these dental problems, it’s crucial that you not ignore it and seek attention from your dentist as soon as possible.

At my Chapel Hill dental office, we will absolutely help you through any dental emergency. We’re also big supporters of prevention and one key way to prevent a dental problem from occurring in the first place is to brush and floss everyday, keep up with your regular appointments at our office, wear a mouthguard while playing sports, and watching what you eat (easy on the popcorn!).

Serving patients in Chapel Hill, Pittsboro, and Durham.

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