How to Find an Emergency Dentist

Three Parts:Dealing with a Dental EmergencyContacting DentistsExpanding Your Search

A dental emergency can be a scary experience! Did you knock out your tooth or your filling? Are you in severe pain? A visit to an emergency dentist is no fun, and finding one can be frustrating. First make sure that you have saved any pieces of tooth that your dentist may need, and then find a dentist quickly.

Part 1
Dealing with a Dental Emergency

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    Decide if you have an emergency or not. If you bit into something hard and felt pain, it’s possible that the pain will recede momentarily. A visit to an emergency dentist may incur expensive bills. Some indications that you have an emergency dental issue are
    • A severe toothache
    • An abscess (an infection in the gum, usually marked by a painful, pus-filled, pimple-like swelling)
    • An object stuck in your mouth
    • A lost filling
    • Bleeding that will not stop
    • Broken braces or wires
    • A tooth knocked out or broken
    • A broken or cracked crown[1]
    • If you are bleeding profusely. are in severe pain, or have a fever over 104, call 911 or go to the emergency room. Don’t pause to contact dentists.[2]
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    Wash your hands before putting them in your mouth. If you have knocked out a tooth or have an abscess or open wound, dirty hands can cause an infection. You shouldn’t handle broken teeth without washing your hands with soap and water first.[3]
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    Save broken pieces of teeth. It’s possible that your dentist can repair broken teeth using the pieces that fell off. However, the only way they can do this is if you keep them moist.
    • Water does not work well for this. It starts to break down the tooth after a short amount of time.
    • A small container of milk (preferably whole milk) will keep the tooth moist very effectively.
    • If you don’t have milk, you or a friend can spit into a small container. Place the tooth inside, and try to cover it with the saliva.
    • If you don’t have a container, you can keep the tooth moist inside your mouth. Give the tooth a quick rinse under water, then place it next to your cheek, and be very careful not to swallow it. [4]
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    Place knocked out teeth back in your mouth if possible. If a tooth fell completely out, your best chance of saving it is to get it back into your mouth quickly. This will prevent it from drying out. There is a very small amount of time in which the root surface of the tooth can be kept alive.
    • Pick up knocked-out teeth by the tops (the parts that you chew with), not the roots.
    • Rinse it off using only water. Do not use chemicals or soap. It doesn’t need to be sterile, just be sure it’s not covered in dirt.
    • Place it gently back into the socket.
    • Hold it in place until you get to the dentist by closing your mouth gently or keeping your fingers on it.[5]
    • If the tooth that came out is a baby tooth, do NOT try to replace it in the socket. You could damage an adult tooth that is coming in under it.
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    Control any bleeding by applying direct pressure. Wear gloves if you can. Use gauze or a similar cloth if possible. As a last resort, you can apply pressure with your bare hands, but clean, dry cloth is preferable.
    • Apply pressure for at least 15 minutes. Resist the urge to peek.
    • Apply additional cloths if the blood soaks through. [6]
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    Call your general dentist. This is the best place to start in a dental emergency. If you are calling during normal business hours, your dentist may be able to fit you. If you are calling after hours or on weekends, your dentist’s answering service may have a number for you to call in an emergency.

Part 2
Contacting Dentists

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    Use Google to help you find a dentist. Type in the name of your city and “emergency dentist.” Try searching in neighboring large cities if you don’t get many results with your own city, consider typing in the name of a neighboring large city with “emergency dentist.”
    • Try using the Google Map. Typically, a search for “emergency dentist” and your city will yield a map of dentists in your area in the search results. Use this map to determine which ones you can get to quickly. Especially if you have lost a tooth, it is best to get to a dentist within half an hour. Sometimes a dentist can save your tooth up to an hour after you lost it, but sooner is best. [7]
    • If you are in too much pain to drive safely, and if you cannot get a ride from a friend or family member, you may want to prioritize calling the emergency dentists closest to you so that you can walk or take a cab.
    • Click on Google Ads. The ads that appear at the top of your search are a good source if nothing appearing in the map yields positive results. Google places paid ads with the highest relevance to searchers at the top of the page. [8]
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    Search a site that specializes in locating dentists. If your Google Search didn't help you come up with a good list of options, you may need to look into other possibilities. Some sites exist purely for the purpose of locating dentists. Such sites often include a number to call for an emergency dentist. Others will give you the numbers of many local dentists. Try
    • 1-800-Dentist [9]
    • Emergency Dental Care USA [10]
    • Emergency Dentists USA [11]
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    Check the Yellow Pages or your local newspaper for dentist ads. Many companies continue to advertise in print media, particularly if they want to attract business from clients who do not have access to the internet.
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    Call dentists. Before you waste your time calling every dentist that appears in the search results, click on the actual websites to confirm that they offer emergency services. Then, call the dentists closest to you. Move outward to those less conveniently located.
    • Unless you are in a position to pay out-of-pocket, it’s also a good idea to use the websites to determine whether the dentist you find will accept your insurance. You can usually determine this from the website. If not, you can confirm when you call.
    • If you reach an answering service, leave your name and number, and describe your emergency. Do not assume that leaving a message will get you an appointment. Move on to another number after you have left a message, because you never know how long it will take the answering service to get back to you.
    • Don’t stop calling until you have reached an actual human being and made an appointment, preferably with a dentist who will accept your insurance.

Part 3
Expanding Your Search

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    Explore local university dental schools. Sometimes they offer reduced rate clinics, and in rare cases they take on patients for free. Experienced dental faculty supervise students. [12]
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    Call a general practitioner. If you cannot find an emergency dentist, a general practitioner may at least be able to provide you with painkillers and other temporary solutions until you can make an appointment with an actual dentist.
    • You could also go to an urgent care center. Odds are good that if your dentist office is closed, many general practitioners are as well.
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    Go to the emergency room as a last resort. If you have exhausted all other options, the ER may be able to help. Though they likely will not have someone who can perform extensive dental procedures, the ER can probably help manage your pain.

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Categories: Teeth and Mouth