Unlike medical emergencies, which usually consist of a serious or potentially life-threatening illness or injury, sometimes it’s hard to tell if a problem with your teeth is a true emergency. However, anything from a toothache to a knocked-out tooth may require emergency dental treatment. Seemingly minor symptoms like a throbbing tooth or bleeding gums are often a sign of a serious oral health problem like tooth decay or early gum (periodontal) disease. Waiting to see a dentist can lead to more problems down the line, and increase the risk of tooth loss.
At Oasis Pediatric Dental Care & Orthodontics, our dentists Dr. Nathalie Phaeton and Dr. Ki Youn Kil offer comprehensive pediatric dentistry services in Falls Church, Virginia. Here’s what they want you to know about dental emergencies.
How to spot a dental emergency
Children can be especially prone to accidents and dental emergencies. From playing contact sports to engaging in routine physical activity, your children’s teeth are vulnerable to a number of problems that require immediate treatment including:
- Chips, cracks, and fractures
- Partially broken or knocked-out teeth
- Soft tissue injuries and lacerations (tongue, gums, cheeks)
- Signs of infection
- Intense sensitivity to hot and cold
In general, anything that requires timely treatment can be considered a dental emergency. For example, a toothache may not seem as serious as a broken or knocked-out tooth, but the pain is usually a warning sign of tooth decay or an infection. If left untreated, not only can the pain worsen, it could also put your teeth and gums at risk.
If you’re unsure whether you or your child’s symptoms need immediate attention, the best thing to do is call the office and discuss it with a member of our dental staff.
In cases of swelling, intense bleeding, or symptoms of infection, chances are it’s an emergency. And if your teeth have been impacted in any way from trauma, such as with a sports injury or a car accident, seek emergency medical treatment right away.
How to handle a broken tooth
In many cases, a tooth can be saved after it gets knocked out if you follow a few precautions:
- Rinse the mouth and keep the area clean until you get to the dentist
- Keep the tooth clean by wrapping it in sterile gauze, and bring it to your appointment, if possible
- Use sterile gauze to apply pressure to stop bleeding, if necessary
- Use ice and cold packs to minimize swelling
You can’t always prevent an accident, but the best way to ensure healthy teeth and gums and to lower the risk of oral health problems is by scheduling regular appointments for checkups and professional cleanings at least once a year.
For more information about pediatric dentistry and orthodontic treatment, call our office at 703-498-2440 to schedule an appointment, or use our online booking tool.