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Hawaii Pacific Dental Group, Inc.

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

By Dr. Rohinton J. Patel on October 28, 2017

Woman with brown hair holding her jawDental emergencies can occur due to a variety of events. A fall, an accident, or a sports-related injury can happen when you least expect it. Luckily, Dr. Rohinton J. Patel at the Hawaii Pacific Dental Group, Inc. in East Honolulu, HI, offers restorative dentistry treatments to address dental emergencies when they arise.

Unfortunately, injuries often occur outside of regular business hours. Here, we will explore what constitutes a dental emergency, so you can be prepared to respond efficiently should such an event occur. Additionally, being well informed can help you avoid unnecessary, expensive trips to the emergency room.

When Is a Dental Injury Not an Emergency?

Minor chips and fractures can be a significant cause of concern for patients. While these flaws can affect the aesthetics of your smile, they are not deemed a dental emergency, especially if there is no pain associated with the injury. Most emergency rooms, while able to provide adequate pain relief, are not equipped to address cosmetic issues. In these cases, it is best to contact your dentist directly, and set up an appointment as soon as possible.

Examples of Dental Emergencies

Anytime there is severe pain or significant bleeding associated with a dental injury, it is considered an emergency. Examples of dental emergencies include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Fever
  • Intense temperature sensitivity
  • Tooth abscess
  • Facial pain
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Trauma resulting in damaged, fractured, or missing teeth
  • Broken jaw

If you experience any of the above symptoms during regular business hours, contact our office immediately to let us know you are on your way. If it is after regular business hours, you can call our emergency line for further direction, or drive directly to your local emergency room.

What to Do in the Meantime

If you experience a dental emergency, there are a few things you can do before your reach the dental office or emergency room. Being prepared can help alleviate stress and worry in the midst of a trying situation. Listed below are some of the most common dental emergencies, and how to handle them while you are on your way to our office:

  • Knocked-out Tooth: In certain situations, a knocked-out tooth can still be saved. If possible, clean the tooth off and replace it in the socket while you are on your way to our office. If replacing it in the socket is not possible, keep the tooth hydrated in a cup of milk or by holding it in your mouth.
  • Fractured Tooth: If a large portion of the tooth has broken off, try to locate the fractured piece and bring it with you.
  • Tooth Abscess: If you are experiencing signs of infection, it is extremely important to seek medical help right away. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help alleviate discomfort and swelling in the meantime.
  • Bleeding: If you experience bleeding due to a damaged tooth or tissue trauma, apply gentle, steady pressure to the area until you arrive at the dentist office or emergency room.

How to Avoid Dental Emergencies

It is impossible to completely avoid injuries. However, there are a few precautionary measures you can take to help avoid dental emergencies. These include:

  • Never use your teeth to open packages or cut things
  • Avoid chewing on hard foods, such as ice, popcorn kernels, or hard candy
  • If you play contact sports of any kind, be sure to wear a protective mouth guard

Learn More about Handling a Dental Emergency

If you would like to learn more about emergency dental care, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, speak with a team member. You can contact us online or call our office at (808) 955-0008.

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