Emergency Room or Emergency Dentist? Tips to Help You Decide

When you've got a problem with your mouth, teeth or gums, it can be difficult to know whether to go to the emergency room or your dentist for urgent treatment. Our Edmonton dentists describe various dental emergencies and where to go.

Dental Emergencies

When you've got a problem with your mouth, teeth or gums, where should you go to have it examined and treated - the emergency room at a nearby hospital or your dentist? It's good to be prepared and know the answers for when minutes count, since the last thing you want to do is to sit in an ER for hours while you're in pain only to find out you need to see a dentist.

Likewise, you don't want to schedule an emergency dental visit only to learn you need to go to the nearest ER.

What is a dental emergency?

A dental emergency is any dental issue that requires immediate attention from a dentist. A situation would be an emergency when treatment needs to be administered to stop bleeding, manage severe pain or save a tooth. if you have severe tooth pain that's causing a throbbing ache, a fractured tooth, bleeding gums, a loose or broken filling or crown, or a lost tooth, it's safe to say you have a dental emergency.

Because dental emergencies can range from a chipped or fractured tooth to mouth infections, abscesses, severe tooth pain, loose teeth and more, there isn't one clear definition of a dental emergency.,

In this post, our dentists in Edmonton offer some insight on how to assess your situation and where to go for treatment during various dental emergencies, from chopped or fractured teeth to mouth infections, severe tooth pain and more.

When should I see my dentist for emergency care?

There are a range of injuries or conditions that should prompt an urgent call to your dentist, including: 

Gum or Mouth Pain

Numerous issues, including small injuries to the gums or tissues inside your mouth, can become unexpectedly painful. From falls or sports mishaps that cause gum injuries to infection and disease, our dentists are here to diagnose and treat your problem.

Bitten Tongue or Lip

You might bite your lip or tongue fairly often, but if the injury is severe enough, signs of an infection are developing, debris is stuck in the wound and/or you aren't able to stop the bleeding, you'll need to come to our Edmonton dental office right away. 

Until you're able to get to the dentist, use a clean cloth to press down on the part of your mouth that's bleeding. If swelling occurs, apply an ice pack to the area. 

Abscessed Tooth or Gum Infection

Food or foreign objects can get lodged in the gums and cause an infection in your mouth. An abscess is a buildup of pus that forms around the infection, and can develop near the tooth or on the gum.

Mouth infections can cause a variety of symptoms depending on the specific problem. If the culprit is gum disease, your gums may bleed after brushing or feel sore or red. They may also be sensitive to extreme temperatures, Mouth infections, abscesses or issues with the gums are a dental emergency and warrant a visit to your dentist. 

Severe Toothache

If applying ice to the area and taking over-the-counter pain medication hasn't alleviated your tooth pain, call your dentist if you are experiencing a throbbing pain that's lasted for more than two days. We recommend avoiding applying heat since this may make pain worse. 

The dentist will take X-rays and recommend treatment based on the issue causing your toothache. Treatment may range from placing a filling to performing a root canal. 

Chipped or Fractured Tooth

Chipped, cracked or broken teeth can cause a significant amount of pain. Even if this happens to you and you are not feeling any pain yet, it's best to make an urgent appointment with your dentist to help prevent or reduce pain, and to avoid infection or tooth decay. 

Most of the time, the broken piece of tooth can be reattached or a tooth-coloured filling or crown can be used to repair or replace the tooth.

Missing or Knocked Out Teeth

A missing or knocked out tooth is one of the most serious dental injuries and is fairly common. If your tooth has been knocked out, it's crucial that you see a dentist within 30 minutes to 1 hour after the incident. If you are able to find the tooth, pick it up by the crown and avoid touching the root. Rinse the tooth with water or milk if it's soiled and place it back in the socket if possible. Gently bite down to hold it in place.

If you're unable to place the tooth back in its socket, place it in a container of milk or keep it in your cheek until you see your dentist.

A knocked out tooth may be able to re-attach to the jaw bone if it can be put back into place within this timeframe. Otherwise, your dentist will recommend options for tooth replacements. 

Jaw Pain

Consistent jaw pain can affect your quality of life - and have you feeling miserable. It may be a symptom of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Left untreated, the condition can lead to chronic pain, headaches, changes to gum tissue, bone loss, loose teeth and more. 

During an urgent visit, the dentist can examine your jaw to find out if TMD is causing your issues, then recommend treatment options that may include orthodontics or oral appliances. 

Loose or Lost Filling 

See your dentist immediately for this emergency since tissue that's exposed due to a lost filling may become painful or sensitive, and bacteria in your mouth can cause further tooth deterioration. In the meantime, replace the filling with a soft piece of chewing gum, which will stick to your tooth until a dentist can replace the filling. 

How is an emergency dentist different than a normal dentist?

While there is no such thing as an emergency dentist according to the Canadian Dental Association, there are dentists who provide emergency care for urgent dental issues. Since dental emergencies don't always occur during regular business hours (such as when your regular dentist is open), you may need emergency dental care on a weekend.

At Emergency Dental Clinics, we're open 7 days a week and no appointment is necessary. Our dentists are on call and are available evenings, weekends and holidays to assess dental emergencies. 

When to Go to an Emergency Dentist

Most of the scenarios mentioned above do not require a visit to the ER. See your dentist first for treatment and if necessary, they can recommend any medical care. This may include referring you to a specialist such as an endodontist (for a root canal) or periodontist.

When should I go to the ER for tooth pain or other emergencies?

When an individual notices they've sustained oral injury, they might first think to see a dentist to check whether their teeth, gums and jaw are intact and healthy. However, sometimes the better choice might be to go to an ER to be assessed by a doctor. 

If you may have a fractured or dislocated jaw, lacerations that might lead to infections or swelling in certain areas, you'll want to make sure that your breathing won't be impacted if the condition gets worse. 

If a facial or mouth injury is especially severe, visiting an emergency room may be your best option so you can get the appropriate dental trauma treatment. In dire situations, call 911 for help. 

How to Find a Dentist to Address Your Dental Emergency

If you are experiencing a dental emergency, don't delay contacting our office to arrange a visit. Our dentists in Edmonton are here to provide emergency dental care whenever patients may need it. You can use our online contact form or call us

Are you wondering whether you should come to our office for emergency dental care and treatment? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can assess your situation and make room in our schedule to see you as soon as possible.

Have a dental emergency in Edmonton? We're here on weekends and after hours to help.

Dental emergencies always happen when you least expect them. Our friendly and experienced dental team is on call to assist you when you need us most.

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