Tooth Tips for Later Life

Questions to Ask an Emergency Dentist Before Visiting

When you've suffered a dental emergency, you don't want to wait too long before visiting a dental clinic, or even your local hospital's emergency room. If a tooth has fallen out, a dentist may be able to suture it back into place if you get to his or her office quickly enough, and some dental emergencies can signal severe problems that should be treated immediately, such as an infection, chipped bone, or broken jaw. Before you head out for the clinic, however, you might call them on the phone quickly and ask the following questions, if necessary.

Ask about age limits 

A gash inside the mouth might be treated by any emergency dentist no matter the age of the patient. However, some emergencies, such as suturing a broken tooth or repairing broken braces, may need to be done by a paediatric dentist or an orthodontist. These types of emergencies may need specialized treatment and understanding of a child's jaw shape and of how braces need to be fitted while being repaired.

If a child has suffered the dental emergency, ask about those age limits and anything related to their treatment in particular before assuming that any emergency dentist can assist.

Ask about appointments and emergency triage

Many dental clinics work on a first-come, first-served basis, without appointments; it can then be good to call and note the length of delay, if they won't reserve an appointment for you. Their emergency room may not triage, meaning taking the more urgent cases first, so you may be required to wait, no matter your emergency. In that case, you may decide to visit a hospital emergency room instead.

Ask how to protect your mouth and teeth before visiting

It can be good to ask for some direction on what you should do to protect your mouth and teeth before you arrive at the dental clinic. For a tooth that's been knocked out, it's usually best to try to put it back into its socket, but a dentist or dental assistant may tell you to put it in water or milk instead if your mouth is particularly swollen or the tooth is damaged. It can be good to ask if you should take any type of medication before visiting or use any type of topical ointment on your teeth and gums. While this can sometimes alleviate pain and reduce swelling, some topical treatments might irritate the gums, so take a quick moment to call and ask what to do before you head to the clinic for treatment.