What is a Dental Emergency?
Do you need immediate care?
Dental emergencies are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection. Seek immediate care if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Cellulitis or a diffuse soft tissue bacterial infection with intra-oral or extra-oral swelling that could potentially compromise the patient’s airway
- Trauma involving facial bones, potentially compromising the patient’s airway
Urgent dental care focuses on the management of conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments. This includes:
- Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
- Pericoronitis or third-molar pain
- Surgical post-operative osteitis, dry socket dressing changes
- Abscess, or localized bacterial infection resulting in localized pain and swelling
- Tooth fracture resulting in pain or causing soft tissue trauma
- Dental trauma with avulsion/luxation
- Dental treatment required prior to critical medical procedures
- Final crown/bridge cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken or causing gingival irritation
Other urgent dental care:
- Extensive dental caries or defective restorations causing pain
- Suture removal
- Denture adjustment on radiation/oncology patients
- Denture adjustments or repairs when function impeded
- Replacing temporary filling on endo access openings in patients experiencing pain
- Snipping or adjustment of an orthodontic wire or appliances piercing or ulcerating the oral mucosa
Non-emergency Dental Procedures
Routine or non-urgent dental procedures include but are not limited to:
- Initial or periodic oral examinations and recall visits, including routine radiographs
- Routine dental cleaning and preventive therapies
- Orthodontic procedures other than those to address acute issues (e.g. pain, infection, trauma)
- Extraction of asymptomatic teeth
- Restorative dentistry including treatment of asymptomatic carious lesions
- Aesthetic dental procedures
The American Dental Association (ADA) provided the guidelines above to differentiate between emergency (including urgent), and non-emergent care, noting that dentists should use their professional judgment in determining the patient’s need.
If you are experiencing a dental emergency, contact your Onsite Dental office at the phone number on your location page.