What You Need to Know About Dental Emergencies

If you kid gets into some sort of accident or sports-related injury, you may find yourself seeking emergency dental care in a clinic that honors Medicaid. Whatever dental emergency your kid might experience or no matter when it happens, it is important to know what to do and be familiar about your dentist’s emergency care policies.

Take note, though, that true medical emergencies warrant an immediate call to 911. As for dental emergencies, gain a better understanding of them by going through this article.

Dental Emergencies: What Are They?

A dental emergency pertains to any injury to the teeth and surrounding tissues that necessitates urgent treatment from a dental professional. Common injuries include swollen gums and chipped teeth.

If you don’t know for sure if your kid’s case is a true dental emergency, answer the following questions below:

  • Is your kid complaining of severe oral or dental pain?
  • Is there a bleeding in your kid’s mouth?
  • Is there a swelling or bruising on your kid’s mouth or face?
  • Do you see loose or unexpectedly missing teeth?
  • Do you see an object lodging between your kid’s teeth?
  • Do you see any knots or bulges in the gums?
  • Does your kid seem to have a broken jaw?

If any of the questions above elicited “yes” for an answer, then there’s a high chance that your kid is having a dental emergency and you should contact your dentist right away. If the injury seems serious or severe enough to endanger your kid’s health, you may also call 911. Take note, though, that most emergency rooms don’t have a dentist on stand-by and the available staff may not be able to assist if the problem is purely dental. Thus, we advise that you also look for a nearby dental clinic to have any necessary emergency dental treatment done right away.

The following dental injuries are considered emergencies, and therefore require prompt treatment:

  • Tooth avulsion— Otherwise known as a knocked-out tooth, this condition is characterized by the total displacement of the tooth from its socket. If the baby teeth are involved, avulsion shouldn’t really be much of a concern, especially if your kid is already in the mixed dentition stage. If it’s the permanent teeth, however, then the injury requires immediate attention. To save an avulsed permanent tooth, hold it by its crown (never by the root) and rinse it. Bring your kid to a dentist as soon as you can to have the tooth replanted.
  • Pericoronitis—Pericoronitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue that surrounds an erupting tooth. It can be any erupting tooth, but it’s often the wisdom teeth that are involved. If left untreated, it could lead to abscess, swelling, and difficulty opening the mouth.Once you notice that your kid’s wisdom tooth is starting to come out (usually at around age 17 to 21) and there are symptoms of infection or inflammation in the area, consult the dentist as soon as you can.
  • Dental abscess—Dental abscess is a collection of pus in the teeth and on the tissues that surround it. It often results from an extensive, long-standing tooth decay or severe periodontal disease. Aside from tooth and gum pain, systemic symptoms such as fever, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes may also be observed. If left untreated, dental abscess can spread to the throat, neck, and various other parts of the body. When that happens, it can be life-threatening.
  • Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth — These three often result from blunt trauma to the tooth and they can be quite painful. To relieve pain, use a cold compress and apply intermittently on the affected area. Seek dental help immediately to avoid the problem from getting worse.

Dental emergencies happen, but there’s so much you can do to prevent your kid from experiencing them. Avoid the need for emergency dental treatment by taking good care of your kid’s oral health. Teach him or her proper oral hygiene practices early on and take him or her to the dentist on a regular basis — preferably at least two times a year.

Managing Dental Emergencies At Home

If your kid is suffering from a dental emergency, it is recommended to go to the dentist as soon as you can. However, while you’re at home preparing to bring your kid in, here are a few tips to reduce the pain or discomfort he or she might be experiencing at the moment:

  • Using a clean piece of gauze, apply pressure on the bleeding area.
  • Wash the wound with clean, warm water.
  • Ask your kid to gargle with warm salt water.
  • For severe toothache, apply a cold compress. Avoid applying heat on the area, and refrain from giving your kid aspirin.
  • For an avulsed tooth, hold the tooth by its crown then wash under cold running water. Gently put it back in the socket, then with a gauze on top, ask your kid to bite down to keep the tooth in place. If replantation cannot be done, immerse the tooth in a glass of milk or warm salt water to keep it moist. If both are not available, ask your kid to keep the tooth inside his or her mouth, in the area between the molars and the cheeks.

Common Emergency Dental Treatments

Once you get your kid to a dental clinic that accepts Medicaid, an emergency dental treatment will be performed and it can be any of the following:

  • Restoration of the chipped or decayed tooth
  • Root canal treatment of a severely-decayed, unrestorable tooth
  • Temporary restoration of a tooth with questionable status
  • Incision and drainage of abscess on the infected area
  • Treatment of soft tissue swelling
  • Replantation of avulsed permanent tooth, if applicable

The emergency treatment that will be rendered depends on the case, the needs of the patient, and the complications if the condition is left untreated.

Does Medicaid Cover Emergency Dental Services?

In most states, Medicaid covers for all necessary dental procedures, including emergency dental treatment. Generally speaking, however, not all dental procedures are covered by Medicaid.

In states where emergency dental services are included, your kid can only avail such services if you are currently enrolled in Medicaid. To avail of these services, you must also have to:

  • Stop the bleeding caused by the trauma or accident
  • Provide relief from sudden, severe pain
  • Control the infection and prevent it from causing further damage

As for adults, it depends on the state whether or not Medicaid covers emergency dental services. Currently, there are six states that do not include any dental services in the program — and yes, even emergency dental care.

Looking for an emergency dentist? Find a Kool Smiles partner dentist near you!