Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

Once my children were grown and on their own, I decided it was time to care of me. One of the first things I did was make an appointment with the dentist. I quickly discovered that years of not keeping up with my own dental care had taken a heavy toll on my teeth. Whereas I thought my teeth were just fine, the dentist pointed out several problems that were going to require a lot of work. When talking to friends, I found out that many of them were in the same boat. This blog is for people like me who just did not have time to keep up with their own dental care.

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How To Determine If You Have A True Dental Emergency

Have you ever found yourself with an excruciating toothache on a weekend night? You probably think that you're experiencing a dental emergency. Unfortunately, it occurs on a day when many dental offices are not open. Even if you do find a willing dentist, he or she may tell you to schedule an appointment, not to come in right away. So if they didn't think you had a dental emergency, then what do they consider an emergency?

When is it Not a Dental Emergency?

Consider the initial example. You are in pain. It's the kind of pain that literally stops you from doing anything. To you, it's an emergency. Once you explain your symptoms, the dentist may simply tell you to rinse with salt water, take an NSAID, get some rest, and come in on Monday.

The truth is the average toothache, no matter how severe, isn't usually an emergency to dentists. Here are a few things that are not emergencies.

  • Dental pain without injury
  • Abscesses and many other mouth and dental infections
  • A lost crown or filling
  • Bleeding gums (unless profuse)

It's true that you need to see a dentist right away for all of these issues. However, these issues, and many more are not emergencies to most dentists. If you're in doubt, call your dentist or a dental service and explain the symptoms. The odds are you'll get penciled in for an appointment.

So What is a Dental Emergency?

A true dental emergency is the type of issue that a dentist will get out of bed for. What makes a dental issue an emergency is usually whether the issue involves an injury. If the injury causes, or is caused by, any of the following, then you have a dental emergency on your hands.

  • A chipped, cracked, broken, or jagged tooth
  • A loose, misaligned, or moved tooth
  • A knocked out (avulsed) tooth
  • Any situation where you're in danger of losing a tooth

There are other injuries that can occur in the soft tissue of your mouth. If it comes down to needing to see a dentist or going to the emergency room for the soft tissue injuries, you should definitely go to the emergency room first.

Call an Emergency Dentist

If you cannot get in contact with your normal dentist after hours or on weekends, then look for an emergency dentist. Meanwhile, you should do what you can to help the issue yourself.

Technically, all dental issues are an emergency. Sometimes it's only an emergency to just you, but that doesn't negate your need to take action. It's better to call on an emergency dentist and have him or her tell you it's not an emergency rather than wait.