What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

In light of the recent COVID-19 guidelines issued by the ADA, we are open for emergencies only. At Prescott Dentistry, we are asking that routine appointments be rescheduled in order to protect our staff and patients. You may be wondering what qualifies as a dental emergency. Here are some of the dental emergencies you should call us about: 


1. Excessive Bleeding 

Injuries to the soft tissue in your mouth (tongue, cheeks, gums and lips) can cause bleeding. For minor bleeding, there are some things you can do at home to stop it. If the bleeding continues after taking these steps, be sure to give us a call. 

  • Swish with a mild salt water rinse. Add ½ a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water. Rinse for about 15 seconds, then spit it out.
  • Use a piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the area that is bleeding. 
  • Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes to alleviate pain and to help control the bleeding and swelling.
  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop, come see us right away. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you are treated. 


2. Abscess

An infection, or abscess, in the mouth can be life-threatening and should be dealt with immediately. Abscesses are pockets of infection (pus) that develop around the root of a tooth or between the teeth and gums. They are very serious in that they can cause damage to surrounding tissue and teeth—the infection can also spread to other parts of the body if left untreated, possibly becoming life-threatening

Some symptoms of a tooth abscess include:

  • Intense pain or throbbing that may radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear
  • Sensitivity 
  • Fever
  • Swelling 
  • Swollen, painful lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
  • Sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting, salty fluid in your mouth and pain relief, if the abscess bursts
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

Give us a call right away if you develop any of these symptoms—and in the meantime, to ease the pain and bring the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt-water solution 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water.


3. Broken, Chipped, or Missing Tooth

If your tooth cracks, swish with warm water right away—this will clean it out so it doesn’t become infected. Apply a cold compress for pain and swelling. For a permanent or adult tooth that comes out completely, try to keep it moist. If possible, try placing the tooth back in the socket ensuring not to touch the root. Otherwise, hold it in between your cheek and gums or place it in a container of milk. Then be sure to call us as soon as possible. 


4. Persistent Pain

If you are experiencing intense pain with a toothache that doesn’t go away, first, swish vigorously with warm water. If there is food stuck between your teeth, use dental floss to remove it—never use a sharp object to remove anything. If there is any swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek. Never apply aspirin or any other medication directly to the gum tissue or tooth as it may cause burns or irritation. Come see us as soon as possible.


5. Other Dental Emergencies

  • Post-surgical treatment (dressing change, stitch removal)
  • Denture adjustment for people receiving radiation or other treatment for cancer
  • Snipping or adjusting the wire of braces if it is causing pain to your cheek or gums
  • Biopsy of abnormal tissue


Contact Us

If you are experiencing excessive bleeding or pain or have any other signs or symptoms of a dental emergency give us a call immediately. Read Prescott Dentistry’s official COVID-19 response here for more information on what we are doing to protect you if you do need to come in for an appointment. We hope that all our clients are staying safe and healthy during this pandemic and we look forward to continuing to take care of all of your dental needs in the near future.