Wondering what to do for a dental emergency? If you’re in pain or distress due to an emergency involving your teeth or mouth - such as a knocked-out tooth, a lost filling, or a severe toothache - you may be unsure whether to go and see an emergency dentist or an emergency doctor.
In making your decision, bear in mind that while an emergency doctor will be able to treat pain and/or bleeding, an emergency dentist is the only professional who can perform the required dental work to address the cause of your dental emergency.
While it’s common for people to head straight to the emergency department when experiencing a dental emergency, such as for emergency toothache relief, this can end up prolonging the inevitable dental appointment, as well as putting you at risk of further complications and potential costs.
In this article, we explain how to decide whether your dental emergency means you’ll need to make an urgent appointment with an emergency dentist or if you’re best off going straight to the hospital emergency department to see an emergency doctor.
What is considered a dental emergency?
Firstly, we understand that if you’re reading this while experiencing a dental emergency, you’re likely to be in a lot of pain and discomfort. The following is some simple advice to help you quickly determine whether to see your emergency dentist or visit the hospital.
While some dental emergencies can be addressed and treated by an emergency dentist, others will require you to visit the hospital emergency department before any dental work can be undertaken.
In the case of the following types of emergency, you’ll need to see an emergency doctor rather than making an emergency dental appointment:
- A serious jaw injury such as a suspected broken jaw or facial bone
- An oral infection accompanied by a very high fever
- Any emergency that involves severe systemic symptoms such as chest pain or difficulty breathing
- An extreme broken tooth (see below)
If the pain you’re experiencing has started within your mouth without being caused by a physical incident, it’s most likely to be a dental emergency rather than a medical emergency, so it’s best to make an emergency dental appointment with your local National Dental Care practice.
Is a broken tooth a dental emergency?
While you may think that a broken tooth would always count as a dental emergency, the fact is that this condition doesn’t necessarily require a trip to the emergency dentist - it’s only considered a dental emergency in extreme cases.
Whether a broken tooth is classified as a dental emergency or not depends on a number of factors, including the level of pain and other complications. In general, a broken tooth will require the attention of an emergency dentist if:
As not all broken tooth incidents will involve the above factors, it isn’t always considered a dental emergency.
However, it’s still important to make a regular appointment with your National Dental Care or DB Dental practitioner as soon as possible if you’ve broken or chipped a tooth, so they can take the necessary steps to fix your tooth and alleviate any painful symptoms.
Can the emergency room pull a tooth?
Do you think you may need an emergency tooth extraction? It’s important to be aware that only an emergency dentist can pull a tooth.
As an emergency room isn’t equipped to perform this type of procedure, there’s very little they’ll be able to do to assist in this situation - meaning many patients who visit the hospital for this reason will end up having to go to their dentist for treatment anyway.
What’s more, as visiting the hospital rather than the emergency dentist is likely to delay your treatment, doing so can result in a more costly procedure - so it’s important to make an immediate appointment with your emergency dentist if a tooth extraction is needed.
Remember, an emergency department can only alleviate the pain rather than address the cause of your dental emergency, so contact your emergency dentist for advise on the best way to proceed.
Are you experiencing a dental emergency? Contact us now to book a same-day appointment.
To help treat dental emergencies as quickly as possible, National Dental Care and DB Dental practices offer same-day appointments for emergency dental, including weekend emergency dental appointment at some practices.
Our dentists will be able to assess the severity of your dental problem through a consultation, so find your nearest National Dental Care dentist now so we can help you get back to your best oral health.
Concerned about the cost of an emergency dental appointment? Check out our blog post, How Much More Expensive is Emergency Dental?