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Do Emergency Rooms Have Dentists on Call?

When faced with sudden pain or a dental emergency, the first thought might be to visit the nearest emergency room (ER). But are you likely to find a dentist on call there? In most cases, people think that hospital emergency rooms are only for people who have other severe health concerns like a dislocated shoulder.

Let’s find out whether hospital emergency rooms have dentists on staff and if there are other places to turn to when you need an emergency dentist.

Do Emergency Rooms Have Dentists On Call?

Unfortunately, it’s very rare for hospital emergency rooms to have dentists on call. You’ll most likely talk to emergency doctors, and the best they can do for you is to give antibiotics or pain medication to reduce severe dental pain. Once they prescribe general medication, they usually tell you to contact your dentist immediately.

Emergency room medical professionals can’t treat your dental issues because they are typically not trained to deal with them. They also don’t have the expertise or equipment to properly diagnose and treat problems with teeth or gums. On the other hand, dentists specialize in these issues and have the correct tools to handle dental emergencies.

Why Visit a Dentist Instead of an Emergency Room?

  • Specialized Care. Dentists specialize in oral health, which means they can provide excellent emergency care. They have the necessary skills, knowledge, and equipment to handle many issues related to oral health that an emergency room may not have.
  • Cost-effective. Dental treatments at a dentist’s office are generally less expensive than an emergency room visit. Using an ER for dental emergencies can be very costly.
  • Time Saving. Emergency rooms prioritize more urgent and life-threatening cases, so you may end up waiting for a long time. You are more likely to be seen promptly at an emergency dental office.
  • Follow-up Care. Dentists can provide ongoing dental care, including follow-up appointments to monitor your recovery. In the ER, you are treated for the immediate problem and then released.
  • Qualified Staff. Dental offices have staff trained and specialized in oral health so dental patients can get the appropriate treatment and advice. In contrast, an ER might not have a dental specialist available.
  • Less Overwhelming Experience. A trip to the ER can be stressful at times. In contrast, visiting your dentist’s office, where the environment and staff are familiar, can be less intimidating.

Types of Dental Emergencies That Require a Dentist

Remember that not all dental injuries may need emergency dental visits right away. However, there are specific cases in which you must visit a dentist because dental injuries can cause additional problems if left untreated. Some of these dental concerns include:

1. Severe Tooth Pain. Persistent, severe pain on a tooth or teeth indicates a bacterial infection or abscess needing immediate treatment.

2. Chipped, Cracked or Broken Tooth. Depending on the severity of the oral injury, the tooth might need repairing or replacing.

3. Knocked-Out Tooth. A knocked-out tooth is a severe injury and requires immediate attention to increase the chance of saving the tooth.

4. Lost Filling or Crown. Losing a dental crown or dental filling exposes the tooth, potentially leading to dental pain and sensitivity.

5. Abscessed Tooth. It is an infection at the tooth root or between the gums and teeth. Since it’s a serious infection, it can damage tissues and surrounding teeth and even spread the infection to other body parts if left untreated.

6. Soft Tissue Injuries. Cuts, lacerations or tears to the lips, cheeks, mouth and tongue will need professional dental attention if the bleeding does not stop.

7. Objects Caught Between Teeth. You should visit a dentist if you cannot floss the stuck debris between your teeth. Don’t use sharp objects, as they could cut your gums or scratch the surface of your teeth.

8. Severe Bleeding. If you have constant bleeding after a tooth extraction or dental trauma, it’s also considered a dental emergency.

9. Persistent Sore or Lump. A sore or a persistent lump that doesn’t heal or subside could be an infection or, potentially, oral cancer, and one should have it checked by a dentist.

10. Partially Dislodged Tooth. If a tooth gets pushed into or out of its socket due to oral trauma, it will need immediate attention.

11. Uncontrolled Orthodontic Pain. It includes broken wires, lost separators or braces that can cause unbearable pain. These dental issues also need to be immediately adjusted.

12. Serious Jaw Injury. Lastly, if you have a broken or dislocated jaw, you should seek medical attention right away.

Ways to Temporarily Treat a Dental Emergency

1. Use a Cold Compress. If the emergency is due to a traumatic injury such as a knocked-out or broken tooth, apply a cold pack to the area to decrease swelling.

2. Use Pain Relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers can ease teeth, gum or jaw discomfort until you see a dentist. But make sure you avoid putting aspirin directly on your gums as it might burn.

3. Apply a Topical Oral Anesthetic. Products like Orajel can numb the area and provide temporary relief.

4. Saltwater Rinse. A saltwater rinse can alleviate gum or tooth pain and act as a natural disinfectant.

5. Keep Knocked-Out Tooth Moist. If a tooth has been knocked out, try to place it back in the socket without touching the root. Otherwise, keep it moist in a glass of milk or a tooth preservation kit.

Visit Smiles of Memorial If You Need an Emergency Dentist

Keep in mind that it’s rare for a dentist in the emergency room to show up and treat your dental issue. The most practical option is to go straight to a dentist because they can deal with your dental problems immediately.

If you don’t know which dental office to go to, Smiles of Memorial is always within reach. Contact us immediately to schedule an emergency appointment, and we’ll provide the necessary dental emergency care once you arrive.