Should You Go to the Emergency Room for a Dental Emergency?

Should You Go to the Emergency Room for a Dental Emergency?

Toothaches (next to events like ear infections and kidney stones) are one of the most painful things a person can ever experience. Although tooth pain can range from dull aches to sharp, throbbing pain, finding yourself in the middle of one will leave you scrambling for help the fastest way you can get it.

But should you go to an emergency room for tooth pain or similar dental emergencies?

Can an Emergency Room Treat Tooth Pain? 

First and foremost, hospitals and emergency rooms aren’t equipped to treat dental problems. Although they can prescribe antibiotics, pain medications, and initially help symptoms of pain subside, they don’t have the resources necessary to treat the root cause of your dental issue. Ultimately, they’ll have to send you back to a dentist or oral surgery center for actual treatment.

What does that mean for dental patients? Potentially, it can lead to more aggressive dental issues due to a delay in care. Additionally, some people might develop a drug resistance to antibiotics, due to over-prescribing medication since it’s the only option available from a medical doctor. Feeling as though your pain subsides may cause some people to put their treatment off longer than they should, allowing existing dental conditions to become more complex (and costly) to treat.

However, if your dental emergency extends past the point of a “tooth problem” — such as a broken jaw — then yes, you need to go to the hospital as soon as possible. That being said, such dental emergencies are few and far between.

Are Newport Beach Dentists Open After Hours? 

Even though most Newport Beach dentist offices are only “open” for traditional business hours, you can generally reach a member of their on-call staff at any time (24/7) for emergency assistance. If you have a dentist that you currently use, call their office number and follow the prompts. You may need to leave a message, but that recording is continually monitored. There may even be a separate number they place on the voicemail after hours, telling you who to call if you’re in severe pain.

Although most dental emergencies don’t require meeting you up at the office after hours, there are always exceptions to the rule. Having an ongoing relationship with a family dentist you know and trust means that you’ll have the added benefit of a dental provider who is already familiar with your situation. So, it’s best to reach out to your dentist first, as opposed to heading straight to the emergency room for a toothache.

How Quickly You Need to Get Dental Care

If you’re experiencing a true dental emergency, you need to get to the dentist’s office within the next 1-2 hours. Generally speaking, our office will re-arrange our schedule to accommodate emergency patients when there is severe pain, broken teeth, or other urgent situations that require immediate care. The sooner you can get to our office, the better chances you have of saving your teeth

In the instance of going to a hospital for tooth pain, you run the risk of sitting in the waiting room or ER area for an extended period of time, while more medically pressing issues are seen first. By the time a physician reaches you, they won’t be able to render any type of permanent treatment to repair your dental injury; they will still refer you back to a dentist’s office, even if they’re able to provide temporary pain relief via medication.

Reducing Strain to Hospital/ER Staff

Right now, a trip to the emergency room places a strain on medical staff who are in the midst of a pandemic. Additionally, it takes away PPE that need to be reserved for true medical emergencies or patients with COVID-19. Since the hospital isn’t equipped with dental staff or the ability to treat the underlying cause of a dental emergency, we only recommend going to the hospital ER if you’re experiencing something like:

  • A fractured jaw
  • Concussion
  • Heavy, ongoing bleeding
  • Severe facial swelling

Otherwise, the safest place to get treatment is with your family dentist. Going to the dentist instead of the hospital will also reduce your chances of interacting with third-parties who could be infected with other communicable diseases.

Emergency Dentist in Newport Beach

The Center For Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry provides family-friendly, affordable dental care when you need it. Our high-quality services put you first, getting you out of pain as quickly as possible so that you can get back to your normal routine.

If you need an emergency dentist in Newport Beach, we encourage you to call. New patients are always welcome! Even if you don’t have existing dental insurance coverage, we provide low-interest and 0% financing through CareCredit on any service. Contact us today to get fast pain relief.

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