How Does an Dental Emergency Differ From an Orthodontic Emergency?

Dental emergencies are, regrettably, something we can never control. These situations happen at random and can be potentially fatal. Fortunately, you don’t have to solve them on your own. Orthodontic emergencies are a bit different in nature, and we’ll quickly go over what the difference is, but you should know that dental emergencies are an entirely different scenario that requires emergency services as soon as possible.

We want everyone who undergoes orthodontic treatment to know what to expect when dealing with a dental emergency, how to identify one, where to find the help they require, and what to expect from the recovery period.

Orthodontic treatment won’t necessarily increase the odds of suffering from a dental emergency, but we wouldn’t want to ignore the situation at all and not offer as much help as possible. The best way to deal with a dental emergency is to know beforehand how to act and which situations count as dental emergencies. Let’s review this together.

What Is a Dental Emergency and How Do You Deal With One?

Dental emergencies are situations that involve direct trauma to your teeth or life-threatening situations that originate in a patient’s mouth. These situations have one thing in common: they count as potentially fatal and require care from specialized professionals.

Is a Broken Tooth a Dental Emergency?

Yes. Even a cracked or fractured tooth counts as a dental emergency that requires immediate attention. We would highly recommend you collect any pieces you can find from your broken tooth and rinse your mouth with warm water. If your tooth got knocked out, try to find it, hold it by the crown (which is the visible part of all teeth just above the gums), and rinse the tooth root with water. Please do not scrub or remove anything that looks like tissue attached to the tooth.

Try to control any bleeding with some gauze while heading to an emergency room or going in search of an emergency dentist. You have to go see your dentist or any on-call dentist as soon as possible while managing the pain and swelling, preferably with a cold compress outside of your mouth. Keep in mind that there are better chances to save a tooth when a dentist returns it to its place within one hour of the accident; time is of the essence.

You can put your tooth or the broken tooth pieces in a small container with milk or a cup of water with a small pinch of salt while you go see your dentist.

As a general rule, you should consider as a dental emergency any situation where you suffer direct trauma to a tooth, and you notice a lot of pain, bleeding, fractures on your tooth, pieces of the tooth that got chipped away, or a knocked-out tooth.

Is a Dental Abscess an Emergency?

Yes. In its most basic form, a dental abscess is the build-up of pus inside a tooth or under the gums as the direct result of an infection. The only way to treat this situation is by draining it, and you’ll need a dentist to do so safely. It’s easy to identify you have an abscess because you’ll experience intense pain, redness, swelling, increased tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages, difficulty chewing, and you might even develop a fever.

Any combination of those symptoms should be a clear sign that you need to contact your dentist urgently. We will gladly welcome you to our dental office in Vista, CA, for dental emergency treatment, but if your dentist is not available or you’re too far away for dental treatment in Vista, CA, you should go to any emergency room near you.

You can ease the pain in the meantime with painkillers and by avoiding sugary or very hot or cold foods and beverages, but the most important thing you should do is seek a dentist’s help.

Is a Loose Dental Implant an Emergency?

This is not a case of a dental emergency because there should be no immediate damage to the rest of your teeth or your overall health. Instead, a dislodged or fallen dental implant is an opportunity to go to the dentist for a replacement.

The most urgent thing here is to avoid any additional complications due to a lack of good oral hygiene. You can get in touch with your dentist’s office for additional instructions for temporary fixes, but whatever you do, never use Super Glue to fix the implant back in place.

Is a Dental Bridge Falling Out a Dental Emergency?

This is a situation that requires urgent care, but it isn’t potentially fatal. Still, you should pay close attention because a dental bridge falling out could be a sign of a more complex situation. Some dental bridges fail because of an underlying case of tooth decay that weakens the supporting tooth. 

Such cases where a small area remains exposed can lead to an unwanted concentration of decay-causing bacteria, and the subsequent cavities can eat away whatever remaining tooth there is until the bridge has nowhere left to use as support.

Likewise, an improper bite pattern that affects chewing and speaking motions can create unusual pressure points, loosening the dental bridge and displacing it, which only highlights the importance of orthodontic treatment as a way to improve your oral health.

Remember to contact your dentist quickly and get a replacement for your dental bridge.

What Is Considered an Orthodontic Emergency?

An orthodontic emergency is essentially different than a dental emergency like the ones we described before. Orthodontic emergencies deal primarily with damage to your orthodontic appliances; they’re not about damage to your teeth or jaw.

True enough, orthodontic emergencies can cause a lot of discomfort, but the most immediate concern is that your treatment may suffer unwanted delays. Make sure to contact your orthodontist to get a permanent solution to this problem and then carry on with your treatment.

Here is a bit more information on how to deal with orthodontic emergencies.

What Happens if You Swallow a Braces Bracket?

You don’t have to worry, as a bracket is not big enough to represent a choking hazard. More often than not, your stomach will begin dissolving the bracket over time, and it will pass through your system normally.

You should still remain very attentive to your current health status and let your orthodontist know about the emergency to receive proper guidance. Get in touch with us to set up your appointment and get a replacement for the fallen bracket.

Can Braces Wire Break and Hurt My Cheeks?

Yes. The archwire will most likely become dislodged instead of actually breaking, and if it does, the end will poke at the inside of your cheeks, causing discomfort and potentially damaging the inside of your cheeks.

You could use some orthodontic wax to avoid scratching, and you could even clip away the ends of a poking wire, but you should always consult with your orthodontist for a more permanent solution.

Get in Touch With Us for Orthodontic Emergencies

If you happen to undergo a dental emergency, you should get in touch with an emergency room right away and go there for specialized help. If you are a patient currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with Dr. Albaugh, you can always count on us to find the solution to your orthodontic emergencies.

Please give us a phone call and set up an appointment to learn more about the solutions to your orthodontic emergencies. We hope to see you soon and that you get the help you require to avoid any unwanted delays in your orthodontic treatment!