Emergency Dentistry from Your Top Plymouth MN Dentists
Smile Design Dentistry understands the nature of dental emergencies and how to accommodate your family’s dental needs. No need to let it turn your day upside down with our Plymouth MN dental team on hand.
Emergency dentistry in a dental office is not something that you would wish on anyone. Typically, they can be painful and perhaps even traumatic for the person who is suffering. But what are common dental emergencies and how are they normally handled by dental professionals?
First off dental emergencies are subjective in nature, meaning that different people could be experiencing the same problem and one will label it an emergency and the next may not. Also, since pain can be common with a dental emergency, we will set-up your on-going dental pain management plan with Dr. Corey Jensen and Dr. Brett Moore if needed.
The first emergency most commonly thought of is that of dental pain. Those of you who have experienced a toothache know the pain can range anywhere from a dull ache to excruciating in nature. If you have a toothache and call your dental office to schedule an appointment most commonly there will be a few questions asked to help assess the emergency and determine if they are dealing with a true dental emergency or dental work requiring immediacy. Exactly what screening questions are asked can vary from dental office to dental office but these are a few we ask at our dental office in Plymouth, MN to provide emergency dental help. We believe the more information our patient-focused dentists have prior to a patient entering the office the better situated they will be to provide our emergency dental care.
How Smile Design Dentistry Manages Dental Emergencies
* Swelling: The first question we will ask when a patient calls with discomfort is, “Is there any swelling associated with the pain?” If the answer is “Yes”, it is an indication that you have a dental infection in or around your tooth thus making the trip to the dentist more emergent in nature to take care of the infection, swelling, and pain. If left untreated, swelling due to an infection can even be life-threatening in extreme cases, possibly requiring a visit to the emergency room. Neither you nor your dentist wants that to happen so being proactive is important.
* Pain: Another question we will ask to determine the urgency of being seen is, “If you were to rate the pain 1-10, with 1 being minimal and 10 being excruciating where would you rate your level of pain?” If the patient says anything 1-4 we know the pain is not that intense (at least not yet) and we may have a window of a couple of days to schedule the patient to help them. If the patient rates the pain 7-10 then we know there is quite a bit of discomfort making the appointment a little more emergent in nature and we want to somehow, get the patient in today to help them. Since pain is subjective in nature this is where it gets a little tricky. When the patient states that pain is a 5 or 6 should we now find a way to get them in today or is it possible to wait for a little? That is where the next question is helpful to find the sense of urgency that the patient may have regarding their discomfort.
* Scheduling: If the doctor’s schedule is really full that day we may ask, “Would it be alright if we found some time for you tomorrow or the next day?” In this case, even if the patient told you their pain was a 4, 5 or 6, they may say, “Is there any way I can be seen today?” Then you know their pain is at a level where the visit is more emergent in nature and of course, we find a way to get them in today to be seen.
* Sleep: One more question to ask to get a better indication of the amount of discomfort the patient is in is to ask, “Is the discomfort keeping you awake at night?” If the answer is “yes”, the patient needs to be seen today to try and help with the discomfort. If your answer is “no”, then you may have some flexibility to schedule the patient outside of today only.
After the Dental Urgency is Assessed
Once you have determined how urgent it is to get the patient in for care there are a couple of more questions that we also ask when a patient is in discomfort that will help in the dentist have an idea of what may be causing the patient’s discomfort.
Questions that determine dental patient’s discomfort:
- “Do you have a sensitivity to pressure or chewing?” If so this tells the dentist that there may be another indicator that infection is present in the tooth.
- “Is your tooth sensitive to hot and cold?” If the answer is yes to this then it may still be an infection in the tooth or it may simply mean that the tooth may need an adjustment because it is hitting incorrectly when biting or chewing.
- “Is your tooth sensitive to air?” this would be similar to the hot and cold question. It could mean an infection or the tooth could need an adjustment because it is hitting incorrectly due to chewing or biting.
The bottom line is at our office (and I believe in most offices) we do not want to leave a patient in pain. They need to know they are with dentists who care and want to do everything they can to mitigate that discomfort as quickly as possible. Treatments for pain can range from simple bite adjustments to root canals and crowns.
Chipped, Cracked, or Broken Tooth Dental Emergency
Another emergency that can be relatively common is a fractured or broken tooth. Let’s say you had that great bowl of popcorn and decided to eat those last, extremely hard popcorn seeds at the bottom of the bowl. Just as you bite down on that last seed you feel and/or hear a crack! That seed just proved to be stronger than your tooth. Now you need to call your dentist. As with tooth pain, we will go through a series of screening questions to determine how urgent your dental emergency is.
Questions that determine the severity of a chipped or broken tooth needing an immediate dental visit:
- “Is there any pain associated with the broken tooth?” Surprisingly, there is usually no pain associated with a broken tooth. However, If the answer is “Yes”, we want to get you in soon. The pain is an indicator there may be something else going on with that tooth.
- “Is there any bleeding associated with the broken tooth?” If there is bleeding we would want to get you in soon to get any bleeding under control. Or, the bleeding could be caused by a sharp edge on the broken tooth that is now cutting your tongue or cheek. That will end up being very painful so we would schedule you into the dental office soon to smooth off that edge off to stop it from causing further pain and damage.
- Last, we want to know approximately where the broken tooth is located. That is because even if there is no pain, no bleeding and no sharp edges the location of the broken tooth may be in the front, showing when you smile. We consider this a cosmetic emergency. You will not only need to have the tooth repaired but you want your dentist to also be versed in cosmetic dentistry as ours are so the tooth is not only repaired but also looks beautiful. We don’t want any of our patients walking around looking like they lost a fight! But seriously people see your smile as a representative of who you are. We have interactions in business that we need to be confident with our smile and we certainly want to have the confidence in our appearance when we are trying to impress that special someone in our lives.
Treatments for broken teeth will depend on how much of the tooth has been lost and can range from simply smoothing off rough edges, to composite fillings, dental crowns, bridges or even dental implants because so much of the tooth has been lost that it cannot be saved.
How to Regain Your Beautiful Smile After a Dental Accident
The last dental emergency that I wanted to touch on was the loss of a tooth due to an accident. We know that your beautiful smile means a lot to you!
Let’s say that for some reason, you have been struck in the mouth, perhaps by an auto accident or some sporting event. Whatever the case, being struck in the mouth has caused one or more of your teeth to come out. I believe that I’m stating the obvious here to say that this is a dental emergency. What should you do?
What to do when an accident happens and your teeth get hurt:
- First thing is to hopefully find the tooth or teeth that have come out.
- Assuming that you or someone else has found the tooth you should try to clean it as well as possible. Removing any dirt that may be on it.
- If you are able to clean the tooth try to place the tooth back in your mouth. (If you feel you are able to do it since this may not be for the squeamish.) You can worry later about the dentist getting it back in correctly for you.
- If you are unable to get the tooth back in, place it in a cup of milk or if milk is not available to place it in a cup of water. Your goal is to keep the tooth alive until your dentist can place it back in your mouth. Placing it in a liquid keeps the tooth hydrated – which is critical. Keeping the tooth in milk keeps the tooth not only hydrated but also adds calcium that your tooth needs.
- Call your dental office or dentist directly if after hours. They will see you as soon as you can get there.
- If you are not able to see a dentist you will need to go to emergency care for treatment.
Plymouth MN Emergency Dental Care for Individuals and Families
So after reviewing a few types of dental emergencies what should you be looking for in your dentist and dental office when it comes to emergency dental care?
* Many times the dental emergency does not happen at the convenience of when your office is open. To help with that many offices have a phone service that can connect you with a dentist who is on call or can be reached by phone. In essence, you should be able to reach someone 24/7, 365 days a year. We believe in our Plymouth, MN office that anyone offering twin cities dental services should be able to provide this level of service.
* Is your dentist able to turn into an “emergency dentist” when needed? Dental emergencies don’t always fit neatly into a doctor’s schedule. Being with a dental office that can flex with the needs of walk-in dental care is important. Sometimes the pain can be such that you don’t want to wait to call and schedule a time. The dental office should be flexible enough when someone needs a dentist to accommodate them.
Is the dental staff trained well enough to ask the intelligent questions before you come into the dental office to help prepare your dentist and schedule your appointment properly?
* Is your dentist at a skill level high enough to provide needed care and deliver it in a fashion where you can still be proud of your smile?
* Last, are you at a practice with dentists and staff who care. Most people can quickly catch on when they are not dealt with in a kind, compassionate manner.
Dental emergencies can come in all shapes and forms.
From a small chip on a tooth to a wire off on an orthodontic bracket to an accident where you are hit in the mouth and experience bleeding, tooth loss and/or broken teeth dental emergencies can come in all shapes and forms. If someone needs a dentist to rejuvenate their smile or help with an emergency and you know them, guide them to someone you trust. Establishing a relationship with a dentist or dental office provides peace-of-mind and a resource for care. Also, regular trips to your dentist can greatly reduce the need for emergency dental care since most dental problems can be caught early (Before becoming a dental emergency!) and emergency dental insurance coverage can be very expensive while not providing great coverage.
Now that you have a better understanding of dental emergencies and how our dental office can handle your dental emergency if the need arises, call us at 763-537-1238.
Brian Denn is the Clinic Manager at Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, Minnesota. Brian has over 25 years of dental practice management involving making practices run smoother and patient experiences better. He also leads a dental practice managers group staying abreast of the latest dental practice management trends.