How to Get Emergency Dental Care

Get Emergency Dental Care
Get Emergency Dental Care (Image:

Although most dental conditions can wait long enough for you to call your regular dentist during office hours, there are some injuries and conditions that require immediate attention. But what constitutes a genuine emergency and what should be done if you find yourself in that situation?

Things You'll Need

  • Dental insurance, if possible
  • Access to local yellow pages or Internet for locate online yellow pages
  • Clean cloth or cold compresses (if swelling is involved)
  • Tea bag or wet gauze (for bleeding)
  • Cup of milk (for knocked out tooth)
  • Dental floss (for objects caught between teeth)
  • Sugarless gum or over-the-counter dental cement for lost filling or crown
  • Clove oil (for lost crown)
  • Pencil eraser, gauze or cotton ball (for broken braces)
  • Orthodontic wax (for loose brackets and bands)
  • Saltwater or peroxide (for an abscessed tooth)

Call your dentist's office if you have a regular dentist who you visit. Even if you don't have one, most dentists leave gaps in their schedules to accommodate dental emergencies and will work you into their schedule the same day, especially for the more extreme cases. Many dentists leave information about other emergency contacts on their answering machine messages, so you can get help even if you call after hours.

Try the yellow pages for dental clinics, many of which stay open longer hours than regular dental offices. These won't always take insurance, so be prepared to pay upfront.

Try an Internet search for one of the many commercial emergency dental services available, such as Emergency Dental Care USA; although, again, be aware that these services expect payment upfront or at the time of services rendered.

Check with local college and university medical schools, as they often have free or reduced-care clinics, which typically have extended hours.

Try home health care for certain types of situations. But if there is extreme pain and/or swelling, you should not attempt home health care and should check with a local dentist or emergency room as soon as possible.

Tips & Warnings

  • Tips for home care techniques: Use a clean cloth or cold compresses if you have swelling; for bleeding, press a tea bag or wet gauze to the affected area for at least 20 minutes. If you have a knocked out tooth, place it in a cup of milk until you arrive at the dentist's office; for objects caught between teeth, try dental floss. If you've lost a filling or crown, use sugarless gum or over-the-counter dental cement or clove oil; and for broken braces, use a pencil eraser to push the wire into a more comfortable position; or if you can't reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball or a piece of gauze (if you just have loose braces brackets and bands, use the orthodontic wax). And for an abscessed tooth, gargle with saltwater or peroxide until you can see the dentist (this is indeed a real emergency).
  • Remember that if pain or swelling is involved, this constitutes a real emergency and should be looked at as soon as possible. If you think you have a broken jaw, you should head to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

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