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What is a Dental Emergency?

Handling Dental Emergencies with your Hanover, Perry Hall and White Marsh, MD Dentist

Most of us have unfortunately had a visit to the emergency room whether it be for a broken arm, a high fever, or a bad cut from a fall.  We generally know when something is beyond our ability to take care of at home, and head to get the appropriate treatment for ourselves or our loved ones.  Female Patient in Chair However, dental emergencies are often seen as things that will get better if ignored or something that can be put off until it’s convenient for our schedule.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, that’s why your dentist in Hanover, Perry Hall, and White Marsh is here to help. Let’s define what a dental emergency is, and give steps on what to do when such emergencies happen.  Early detection of dental problems through frequent cleanings and check-ups is the best way to avoid dental pain and extensive dental treatment, however emergencies can and do happen even to the best of us.  Getting these issues taken care of as soon as possible may be the difference between saving or losing your tooth.  

What is a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency, loosely defined, is any issue with your teeth, gums, or jawbone that prevents you from chewing or causes you pain.  A loss in your ability to function on a daily basis is something that needs to be addressed by your dentist.   An exception to visiting your dentist is major trauma that involves possible fracture of your jaw or extensive bleeding that cannot be stopped.  These issues should be directed to the hospital emergency room first to get you in a more stable condition.  Afterwards, schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your family dentist.  Barring this extreme circumstance, the following are the most common dental emergencies we see:  

  • ToothacheA tooth that is hot or cold sensitive, or is spontaneously aching, can be due to a variety of causes.  Call Dental Designs of Maryland immediately and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve the pain until you are able to be seen.  Avoid any foods that are too hot, cold, or crunchy.  If the area hurts to brush, keep it clean by gargling a warm saltwater mixture until you can be seen.
  • Knocked out ToothIf you’ve knocked out a tooth while playing sports or from a fall, gently rinse any dirt or debris off the tooth while being careful not to scrub the tooth or remove any tissue fragments on the root.  Once cleaned, place the tooth back into the socket in its original orientation and call your dentist immediately.  If this is not possible, place the tooth in a container of milk or even keep it inside your cheek where there is sufficient saliva, until you can visit the dentist.  Often the tooth can be splinted and re-implanted, and saved with a root canal and crown.  The sooner you’re able to see your dentist the better chance you have of saving the tooth.


  • Swollen FaceIf you find that your toothache causes your gum or face to swell, use an ice pack where the swelling is in 20 minute intervals.  Do not use heat in the area.  Call Dental Designs of Maryland immediately and we will evaluate the area and likely write an antibiotic to bring down the swelling, followed by a definitive treatment.  Do not use “leftover” antibiotics you may find at home.  Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen may relieve the pain until your appointment.


  • Losing a Filling or a CrownIf you feel like you’ve lost a dental restoration, you may use an over the counter filling material to cover your exposed tooth if there is any sensitivity.  Many people do not have much sensitivity when a restoration is lost, and in this case, you’ll want to avoid anything overly hot, cold, or crunchy, until you can see the dentist.  If a crown comes off, it is imperative that you see your dentist immediately or you risk the adjacent teeth shifting into the space, which means you will need a new crown.  

  Dental Designs of Maryland is here to handle your dental emergencies, we have locations in Perry Hall, MD and Hanover, MD.  If you’re experiencing pain, swelling, or a lost restoration, we are ready to help get you out of pain and fix your dental problem, call us today!