Dental Problem or Dental Emergency?
What is considered a dental emergency? Nearly everyone is concerned about their teeth, and when problems occur, even the manliest of manly men might start looking for 24 hr dental emergency care. But given the chronic overcrowding in ERs and relentless wear and tear on emergency staff, we may be better served by asking ourselves what constitutes an emergency in general, and then applying those criteria to dental situations to decide whether or not to seek immediate attention.
The first factor to consider in any health related matter is breathing. Any EMT will tell you, their first priority is to make sure their patient has an unobstructed airway and is getting enough breath to function properly. This can be applied to a dental emergency question as well. If, due to tooth infection or dental injury, there is swelling inside your mouth sufficient to cause breathing difficulty, that is definitely an emergency. If you are experiencing minor swelling and mild discomfort but can breathe just fine, call a 24 hr hotline or urgent care facility to discuss your options in more detail.
Bleeding that does not stop is another indicator of an emergency. This is not to be confused with any bleeding at all, such as a hangnail, but if something starts to bleed for whatever reason and does not clot or slow, you need to see an emergency doctor immediately. Cuts or abrasions in your mouth actually heal very quickly, so oral bleeding that does not stop should be seen to right away.
Another emergency indicator is pain. Pain, despite what motivational t shirts may tell you, is actually your body telling you that something is wrong. Constant pain in any area of the body is a surefire sign you need emergency care. Pain in your teeth or gums may be the sign of serious infection or problems with the root of a tooth, and deserves a trip to the emergency room.
With something so important as your dental health, it is understandable to be overly cautious. But not every instance requires emergency care. Always be sure you know how to find emergency dentists in your area, but be circumspect in your decision to go to one. It can save you time, money, and a whole lot of unnecessary worry.