According to a study in American Family Physician, an estimated 22% of the population has experienced some kind of dental pain in the last 6 months. Regular checkups and good oral hygiene can prevent many emergencies, but it can’t prevent them all. But if you have a dental emergency in Lansdale, should you go to the hospital ER or call a dentist? Keep reading below to find out and get some great tips for handling several common emergencies!
When Should You Go To the Hospital?
Trips to the hospital for dental emergencies aren’t uncommon. In fact, these visits went from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010 (almost double in just a decade).
It can be hard to know what a true medical emergency is, but if you’re in any of the following situations, go to the hospital ER for medical treatment first:
- If you have heavy bleeding that doesn’t subside after applying pressure for 15 minutes.
- If your jaw is fractured or dislocated.
- If you have swelling or an abscessed tooth, there’s a good chance you have a serious infection that can become very dangerous if it travels to other areas of the body.
- If you have any serious facial lacerations.
- If you’ve knocked out a tooth and can’t see a dentist within an hour (getting care in this timeframe increases the chance that the tooth can be saved)
In all of these situations, you can call an emergency dentist in Lansdale after you’ve been stabilized for any restorative work that may need to be done.
Tips For the Most Common Dental Emergencies
After you’ve either called a dentist or made arrangements to get to a hospital ER, here are some tips for handling common emergencies until you can be seen:
- Jaw Fractures – Make a bandage out of a scarf or necktie and gently tie it around the head and under your jaw to minimize movement. Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and take over-the-counter pain medication as directed until you can see a doctor.
- Facial Lacerations – Gently clean the area with cool water and mild soap. Then use a clean damp cloth to apply pressure.
- Knocked-Out Tooth – Again, you’ll have the best chance of saving your tooth if you can be seen within one hour. In the meantime, start by gently rinsing your mouth out. Then rinse the tooth off (holding it only by the crown, not the root) and place it back in its socket, facing the right way. If this isn’t possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk or water, or hold it in your cheek pouch. It’s crucial that the tooth stays moist.
- Abscess or Swelling – In severe cases, this can be life-threatening if it goes untreated. But, while you’re waiting to be seen, you can gently apply a cold compress, swish with salt water every 1-2 hours, and take over-the-counter pain medication. Remember, even if the pain subsides, you still need treatment as soon as possible.
Sometimes the best offense is defense. Although you can’t prevent all emergencies, you can be prepared to act quickly and get the appropriate emergency care!
About the Author
Dr. John Hornick has nearly 20 years of experience as general and emergency dentist in Lansdale and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. He’s treated countless emergencies and can put even the most frazzled patient at ease while getting them out of pain as quickly as possible. If you have any other questions about a dental emergency, he can be reached via his website.