Should I go to the hospital or dentist for a dental emergency?

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You may have been slapped across the face and your tooth is loosening or even falling out. Or maybe you have a toothache so severe that you don't know how to deal with it every other day. Emergency dental care can happen at any time. You may not know if you need to go to a hospital or a dentist for a dental emergency.

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The answer actually varies. As with other emergencies, dental emergencies require different levels of care depending on the severity. Where you go for dental emergency treatment depends on the type of emergency.

When to go to the hospital

Dental emergencies or injuries to the face and mouth that require immediate medical attention include fractures of the jaw, dislocated jaw, severe cuts or tears to the face and mouth, and an abscess or infection that is severely inflamed or affects your breathing or swallowing.

These are situations when you should call 911 or go to a hospital emergency department. Don't wait for your dentist to treat a life-threatening condition.

When to see a dentist

There are other dental emergencies that are not considered life threatening but may require immediate attention.

If you break or break a tooth (for example, when you ate something crunchy), or if you hit a tooth, unless it caused heavy bleeding or was caused by severe trauma (such as a blow to the face), you may want to wait until the dentist takes care of them.

Although pain from cavities or abscesses can be severe, unless it affects your ability to breathe or swallow, it is probably not critical. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Sensitive teeth care

If the discomfort of tooth decay includes sensitivity to hot and cold foods, this usually does not indicate a serious problem. Sensitivity can be caused by mild cavities, loose fillings, or minimal gum recession that expose small areas of the root surface .

Try toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Brush up and down with a soft brush; side brushing erases exposed root surfaces. If this doesn't help after a few days, see your dentist.

When to contact an endodontist

If the problem causing your tooth pain is related to pulp tissue damage, your dentist may refer you to an endodontist who specializes in pulp-related procedures. Your endodontist will perform a procedure that will clean the damaged pulp and fill and seal the remaining space. This procedure is commonly known as a root canal .

When your dentist is unavailable

Dental emergencies don't always happen when the dentist is open. If emergency dental care occurs outside of office hours, on weekends or holidays and is not considered life threatening, always try to call your dentist before looking for alternative treatment options.

Many dentists provide their patients with emergency out-of-office care or advice on requesting a replacement. If the dentist cannot see you after hours and you still need treatment from a healthcare professional, contact the nearest healthcare center in your area.

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