When Must You Call the Emergency Dentist?

Most dentists have normal office hours. They're open from about 9 am until 5 pm each day, and maybe they open a few weekend days per month for patients who can't make appointments during the week. But dental issues don't always keep the same 9 - 5 schedule. If something happens after-hours, sometimes you can wait until your normal dentist's office opens the next day, but other times your best bet is to call an emergency dentist — a professional who offers after-hours services for urgent situations. Here are a few cases in which you really should call the emergency dentist rather than waiting.

1. You've knocked out a tooth.

Did you know that a knocked-out tooth can often be saved? A dentist can reinsert it in the socket, perhaps with a special compound to encourage tissue growth, and secure it in place. Within a few weeks, it will be anchored back in place, almost like nothing ever happened. The thing is, for this to work, you have to act fast. If you wait until the next morning when your dentist's office opens, it will almost certainly be too late to save the tooth. So call the emergency dentist, and in the meantime, store that tooth in some milk.

2. You've badly broken a tooth.

Chipping off a tiny piece of the tooth is one thing. If there's no pain, you can wait until the next day, make an appointment, and have your dentist file down the chipped area. On the other hand, if you break a large chip off of your tooth and it is painful, you need to see the emergency dentist. As with a knocked-out tooth, this can be fixed, but only within the first few hours of the accident. If the chipped tooth material can't be reattached, you still need prompt service because an exposed tooth nerve is really painful!

3. Severe pain.

Toothaches range in severity. A mild ache is usually something that can wait until morning. But if your tooth is throbbing and pulsing so badly that you have no peace and just feel like sobbing, head on in to the emergency clinic. This serious tooth pain is usually caused by an infection in the tooth root, and such infections can spread to the surrounding tissues if you're not careful. You'll feel a lot better once the emergency dentist starts you on antibiotics. 

Make sure you have an emergency dentist's number on hand. You never know when you might need it.