A throbbing toothache, cracked crown, or a lost filling—they are all dental emergencies, but is the ER the right place to go for treatment?
Facts about the ER and Your Dental Emergency
- No dentists are available – Emergency rooms are full of professionals who are trained to take care of medical emergencies, but there are no dentists in the ER. And dental tools? Not in the ER.
- Care is limited – You might receive pain medication or antibiotics for a tooth infection. But you will be told to see your dentist in the morning.
- Time is wasted -The average wait time in a U.S. emergency room is 10-45 minutes. Overall, you’ll spend about two hours in an emergency room before you’re sent home—without having received dental care.
Exceptions – If your tooth is bleeding excessively or causing your face or neck to swell, or if you’re having difficulty breathing, go to the ER. Use good judgment if you’re experiencing extreme signs or symptoms.
What Will an Emergency Dentist Do?
An emergency dentist will assure you that you’ve come to the right place. The dentist will relieve your pain, examine your tooth, identify the source of the problem, and recommend treatment. Depending on the circumstances, you might need a follow-up appointment for treatment to be completed. If the dentist thinks there is a chance that your tooth can be saved, it’s best to let him or her try to preserve it.
Think an Extraction Is Easier?
Don’t insist on an extraction if it isn’t necessary. There are several problems that can result if your tooth is extracted.
- Detracts from your smile – An extracted tooth leaves an empty space in the mouth and detracts from the beauty of your smile.
- Contributes to misalignment – Empty spaces cause other teeth to drift and become misaligned.
- Bone loss – The body resorbs the jawbone in the empty space, because the bone is no longer needed to support a tooth.
- Nutrition – Depending on the location of a missing tooth, it can affect how well you chew and digest food.
- Pain and recovery – Tooth extraction is more painful and takes longer to heal than root canal treatment. No patient regrets a successful root canal treatment.
- Expense – Many people who are missing a tooth later want to have it replaced. Additional expense is incurred. Although you can get a dental implant, a dental bridge, or a partial denture, no form of tooth replacement functions as well and looks as good as a natural tooth.
Emergency care from a dentist—not the ER—can save your tooth, restore your oral health, and keep your smile intact.
This post is sponsored by Robert Thein, DDS, a Glendale, CA emergency dentist.