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Dental Emergency? Why You Should Visit Your Dentist Instead of the ER

April 6, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drbc @ 3:47 pm

older man with dental emergency

With all the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic going on, the last thing you need on your hands is a dental emergency. Yet, as many as one in six Americans will have to deal with one every year. When one strikes, it’s important that you know where to go. Should you visit your dentist’s office or the emergency room? Keep reading to find out why it’s better for your oral health to see your dentist.

Why Should You Go to the Dentist Instead of the ER?

There are several reasons why it’s much more beneficial to see your dentist instead of an emergency room doctor, such as:

  • Most hospitals don’t have a dentist on staff who has the specialized training required to treat specific dental emergencies like a toothache.
  • Despite the pandemic, most dental practices are still open to treating patients with emergencies.
  • In the emergency room, you might be exposed to people with all kinds of medical conditions, which may include the coronavirus.
  • Hospitals are quickly becoming overloaded with COVID-19 patients. They may not have the time or staff to devote to your dental emergency.

When Should You Go to the ER?

In a few cases, it’s actually preferable that you see an emergency room doctor instead of your dentist, such as if you’re:

  • Still bleeding after applying pressure to the site for longer than 15 minutes
  • Experiencing swelling that compromises your ability to breathe or swallow
  • Have a broken or dislocated jaw

These situations are often considered life-threatening emergencies and warrant seeking medical attention as soon as possible.

What If Your Dentist’s Office Is Closed?

If your dentist isn’t open, then it’s fine to go to the emergency room as a last resort, especially if you have a knocked-out tooth, since the tooth needs to be reattached within the hour. Before you go, make sure to call your dentist and leave details about your situation, including how you’re seeking medical attention from the ER. Then, when the office reopens, they can call you back and schedule an appointment to see whether any further treatment is needed.

Even if the staff at the ER is able to treat your immediate problem, keep in mind that you should still see your dentist as soon as you can afterward. Oftentimes, all the ER doctors will be able to do is prescribe antibiotics or painkillers, and that doesn’t address the root of the problem. For this reason, you should call your dentist in a timely manner to prevent your dental emergency from making a resurgence.

About the Author

Dr. Andrew Nawrocki graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry in 2008. Two years later, he was recognized as a Fellow in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. He also maintains active memberships in the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, and the American College of Prosthodontists. If you call his Ormond Beach, FL practice with a dental emergency, he will do his utmost to see you the same day. If you have a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Nawrocki at (386) 677-1046.

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