When to Ask for Help Out of Hours
When does a dental problem become a dental emergency? And where should you go if it is? These are questions many people have asked themselves, when in pain, often at three in the morning, or on a Sunday afternoon when they assume that every dentist in town is closed.
When we think of health emergencies in general, the place we tend to think of heading is the local hospital emergency department. For oral health emergencies, not so much. In amongst the broken bones, fevers and other cases waiting to be attended to it can be very hard to get someone to come and help you with that broken tooth.
The good news these days is that emergency dentists exist. Like hospital emergency departments, they are open seven days a week. This means that not having to suffer through hours of pain and agony waiting for the sun to come up and 9 am to roll around is an option.
To Call or Not to Call?
So, you've determined that yes, an emergency dentist exists in your area. But do you really need to call, or will they think you're just being a wimp? And if you do, is the trip going to cost you extra money that you could have saved yourself by toughing things out until regular business hours?
The fact is that some oral health conditions really are emergencies. If you were fine at 5 pm when you left work but have now been fighting oral pain since 8pm that's a good sign that you'll need help sooner rather than later.
Alternately, if you've had an accident or injury - anything from getting hit while playing footie to awkwardly biting a juicy apple - and you have broken, or even knocked out a tooth - an emergency dental appointment is probably your best bet too. There is only a very limited time to work with to save a knocked out tooth and a big crack can go from unsightly annoyance to serious dental health problem more quickly than you might think too.
On the other hand, if you think your jaw is broken or your lips, gums or tongue are severely severed or damaged it's the hospital you should be headed for.
The best advice we can offer is if you are in oral pain, give the emergency dentist a call. Our staff are trained to help patients determine what is and isn't something they need to be seen for right away and if they should be seeing an emergency dentist or an emergency department doctor. The one thing you shouldn't do? Suffer in silence - or whimper quietly in the corner. Even if your dental problem can wait the emergency dental staff will be able to offer you advice about what to do in the meantime.
The Emergency Dentist Says: