Important Things You Should Know During a Dental Emergency


A dental emergency shouldn’t be ignored. If you’ve injured your gums or teeth outside regular office hours, it’s time to seek emergency dental care. But how do you know when your injury can wait, when it’s time to go to the hospital, or when it’s time to call your emergency dentist.

Optimal Dental Center located in both Reston, VA and Fairfax, VAA are experienced providers of emergency dental care. Here’s what to know during a dental emergency.

When is Something a Dental Emergency?

Before you call up your emergency dentist, decide whether you’re dealing with a dental emergency, a medical emergency, or something that can wait. 

If you’re in severe pain, have lost or broken a tooth, have loose teeth, are bleeding from the mouth, or have an infection or abscess, you might be experiencing a dental emergency. Call your regular dentist and describe your symptoms to them. Depending on the situation, they might recommend that you come in immediately, or have you wait until their office opens the next day. If you cannot get in touch with your dentist, call an emergency dentist or the ER.

When is Something not a Dental Emergency?

A dental issue that can wait a day or more isn’t a dental emergency. Non-emergencies include a chipped or cracked tooth that is not painful, a mild toothache, or minor gum damage. In these situations, you can manage the situation at home while waiting for an appointment. However, be mindful of escalating symptoms such as fever or swelling – if these occur you might be facing a dental emergency. If you’re unsure about whether what you’re experiencing is an emergency, call your dentist or an emergency dentist to get their recommendation. 

What to Do During a Dental Emergency   

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, here’s what to do while you’re waiting to see your dentist.

  • Bitten lip or tongue. Clean the area and apply a cold compress. If the bleeding is severe and doesn’t stop, contact your dentist or go to the ER.
  • Broken tooth. Rinse with warm water and apply a cold compress. Contact your dentist.
  • Lost tooth. Gently rinse the tooth in water; do not scrub. Insert the tooth back in its socket. If you cannot, store it in a glass of milk. Go to the dentist immediately.
  • Toothache. Rinse with warm water, then floss or use a pick to remove food or debris. Use an oral numbing gel for the pain. If pain persists, call your dentist.
  • Abscess. Rinse with warm water. Do not floss the affected area. Call your dentist.  

Avoiding a Dental Emergency

Staying proactive in your dental hygiene is the best way to avoid a dental emergency. Regular brushing and flossing together with routine dental visits will help address any problems in their early stages – before they become an emergency. Be mindful of your teeth during high-impact activities such as playing contact sports or riding a bike and take precautions such as wearing a mouthguard. Avoiding chewing on hard foods and using your teeth to tear or shear non-food items can also reduce the risk of a dental emergency. 

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, time is of the essence. Call your emergency dentist asap to address the situation before things get worse. Optimal Dental Center offers emergency dental care in Fairfax and Reston, VA to ensure you get the dental care you need when you most need it.