Most people have suffered some sort of pain in their mouths, whether it’s from a cavity, tender gums or remnants of a previous procedure. More and more people are looking to the emergency room for help. According to a study by the American Dental Association Health Policy Resources Center, the number of dental-related emergency room visits almost doubled between 2000 and 2010, going from 1.1 million to 2.1 million.
Many times these dental-related incidents actually require a trip to the hospital, but more often than not a trip to the dentist would be a more efficient and appropriate way to treat the problem, especially if the emergency occurred during a sports activity. The extra traffic through the ER doors creates extra strain on hospitals by forcing them to treat patients for whom they can do nothing other than reduce the pain.
The ER is not the solution
Usually a minor problem like a toothache or gum soreness shouldn’t warrant a trip to the emergency room, but sometimes people go anyway. More often, though, these dental emergency trips are usually the results of more significant issues, like abscesses, cracked teeth, or facial/periodontal infections. The problem, however, is that emergency rooms are only equipped to fix the symptoms and not the underlying problems.
ERs can provide treatment to relieve the pain patients are suffering; they can give the patients the necessary painkillers and/or antibiotics, but few hospitals have dentists on staff to treat these patients properly. Without a proper follow up by a dentist, the problems will continue to plague the patient and probably get worse. The hospital is only a short-term solution.
Preventative care is always better
These major problems can often be the result of continuous neglect. A minor cavity, if left unchecked, can be a starting point for bacteria to fester and create more significant problems. Something that could have been treated with a simple cleaning can turn into something painful and requiring emergency care, such as an abscessed tooth, periodontal disease, or tooth loss.
This often occurs because people do not have access to proper dental care or choose not to use it. Even after a visit to the emergency room and received their painkillers, people can be reluctant to enlist a dentist’s help to fix the underlying problem. It might even boil down to a simple lack of education regarding oral health its effects on the body.
Invest in your teeth
Emergencies can happen to even the most prudent oral health aficionados. Accidents can happen any time causing broken teeth. Conditions in the mouth can change quickly during the course of the months between cleanings. Anytime you notice a change in your mouth, contact your dentist to see what you should do. There are a few conditions, however, in which you may consider going to the emergency room:
- excessive bleeding where blood is continuously filling the mouth
- swelling that has skin discoloration and has spread across the face
- broken jawbone that is continuously shifting
The key to avoiding the emergency room is a good dental health routine. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day will keep the bacteria from gathering on your teeth and in your gums. Regular visits to the dentist will allow him/her to clean all the hard-to-reach places as well as spot any potential problems before they are exacerbated. The cost of a cleaning is much lower than that of a visit to the ER, so make your regular cleaning appointment today to make sure dental emergencies don’t happen to you.