Do You Need an Emergency Dentist or Can Your Appointment Wait?

Trying to get an appointment with your dentist when you have a toothache or other concern can be difficult, but this doesn't necessarily mean you need to see an emergency dentist. Some common problems with your teeth and mouth can wait a few days to be seen. But on the other hand, you don't want to wait for an appointment when you have a real dental emergency. While it's always good to err on the side of caution and visit an urgent dental clinic or emergency dentist when you even suspect you have a dental emergency, note when you might be able to wait for a standard appointment instead.

1. Evaluating pain

One way to note if you can wait a few days to see a dentist is to evaluate the type of pain you have in your mouth. If it's dull, throbbing pain, you may have been grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night. If the pain feels very sharp, you may have an exposed cavity that is overly sensitive to hot or cold foods. In many cases, these can wait to be treated.

However, if the pain feels like someone is stabbing the inside of your mouth or is very sharp and acute, this will typically need to be checked out immediately. This could be an oral infection or the result of an injury; the tooth could be coming loose or they may be damage to the roots of the tooth that should be addressed.  

2. Evaluating damage

If you examine your teeth and notice a very tiny crack or pitting in the tooth, or can see that the enamel is slightly eroded, you may be able to put off having this damage checked out until you can make an appointment with your dentist. If cracks and chips are very noticeable and take up a large part of your tooth and especially if they seem to be growing, you'll want to see a dentist as quickly as possible. This type of damage to the tooth means that the tooth itself is very weak. If you were to bite down on it or even if the upper jaw were to rest on a lower tooth that is slightly cracked, the crack can become more severe and can lead to an actual chip. If your tooth breaks or a crown comes off, those might be acceptable emergency situations. 

Note that if you will have to  wait to make an appointment with your dentist, be very gentle with your teeth in the meantime. Opt for soft foods and mind the pressure you apply with a toothbrush so you don't make pain or damage to teeth worse.