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Dental emergency

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that dental offices throughout the country are closing their doors to non-emergency patients. This is true; at the advice of the CDC, ADA, and other organizations, many dentists are taking steps to limit contact between their staff and their patients.

These postponed appointments are a critical step in limiting the spread of COVID-19, a new virus that has infected nearly 2 million people around the globe. However, this new policy doesn’t mean that you have to suffer toothaches alone. Many dental offices are still providing emergency care to their patients, and Steger Smiles is no exception.

What is a Dental Emergency?

Currently, the Steger Smiles staff only sees patients whose needs constitute a dental emergency. If you need to see a dentist right away, all you have to do is call us! We’ll be happy to put you into our schedule as soon as we can.

However, this policy can raise an interesting question: what exactly IS a “dental emergency”? According to the ADA, a dental emergency is any condition that causes a patient severe pain or is potentially life-threatening. Several cases fall into this category, such as:

  • A knocked-out or fractured tooth
  • A dental abscess (an infected pocket of pus in the tooth)
  • Bleeding gums that won’t stop
  • After surgery treatments (like dressing changes or stitch removals)

If you are experiencing one of the conditions listed above, it’s alright to call your dentist and make an urgent appointment. However, if you want a routine cleaning, professional teeth whitening, or any other non-essential treatment, it’s probably best to wait until the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

Signs You Need Dental Care

Let’s say that you wake up tomorrow feeling… a little off. Something’s not quite right in your mouth. Ordinarily, you would call the dentist right away – but now, you’re not sure. After all, does this REALLY count as an emergency? Here are a few signs that you should get immediate dental care:


Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something needs attention. Oral pain can be any number of things, from a cavity to a gum infection. If you are experiencing intense pain that persists throughout the day, it’s best to have a professional look at your mouth.


In most cases, swelling in the mouth indicates an abscess. This means that a tooth or gum has become terribly infected, resulting in a pocket of pus in the mouth. Left untreated, abscesses can become very dangerous and even fatal! If you notice swelling and tenderness in your gums, make sure you call the dentist ASAP.


Admittedly, some people’s gums bleed all the time. They may bleed during brushing and flossing. They may bleed due to hormone changes (if you’re pregnant). In most instances, bleeding gums stop pretty quickly, which tells you there is nothing to worry about. However, if your gums keep bleeding long after the initial incident, it might be a sign of greater problems.

Broken or Lost Teeth

Knock out one of your teeth; you MUST get to the dentist as soon as you can. Most dentists can re-implant a missing tooth – but it’s much harder to do 30 minutes after the incident. Similarly, fractured or chipped teeth that cause severe pain need to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Call Us for Emergency Care

If you experience a dental emergency during this COVID-19 lockdown, don’t hesitate to call Steger Smiles. Our team will provide you expert care in a safe, hygienic environment, so you can be healthy, safe, and comfortable throughout this period of quarantine.

Be proud of your smile.