Dental emergencies are usually unexpected and can leave you scrambling for appropriate care. In such situations, you may ask, do I need an emergency dentist or an emergency oral surgeon? This blog post will help you understand the differences between the two, their specific roles in addressing dental emergencies, and why the distinction is important.

Oral Surgeon vs. Dentist

Oral surgeons are dental specialists who focus solely on surgical procedures – those that specifically involve the face, jaws, and the mouth’s soft and hard tissues. They have received additional training beyond dental school and are experts at diagnosing and treating a variety of oral health conditions that require surgical intervention.

Dentists generally handle routine dental care and maintenance, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of common dental problems. These professionals have completed dental school and are adept at identifying potential issues and managing dental emergencies.

Why Start With an Emergency Dentist?

In an emergency, your dentist should be your first point of contact. There are a few reasons for this: 

  • Assessment: An emergency dentist will evaluate the situation to determine if surgery is necessary or if the issue can be resolved through less invasive measures. They can also advise on the appropriate course of action and promptly refer you to an oral surgeon, if needed. 
  • Initial Treatment: Emergency dentists can often provide immediate care for dental issues to help minimize pain and discomfort, stabilize the situation, and determine the need for further intervention.

It’s essential to see an emergency dentist first to properly diagnose your condition and help put together an overall plan of indicated treatment.

Dental Emergencies That May Require an Oral Surgeon

There are several situations where an emergency oral surgeon may be required:

  1. Facial or Jaw Fractures: In cases of severe trauma to the face or jaw, emergency care from an oral surgeon may be required. These specialists can reconstruct damaged facial structures to ensure proper function and appearance.
  2. Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can cause significant discomfort and potential complications if not addressed quickly. Oral surgeons specialize in extracting these problematic teeth to prevent further issues. 
  3. Oral Cancer: When oral cancer is detected, it is crucial to receive immediate and specialized care. Oral surgeons can  play a crucial role in diagnosing, cancerous growths in the mouthand other facial structures. 
  4. Loose or broken dental implants: If you have loose or broken dental implants, an oral surgeon is the only specialist qualified to address the problem. They are specifically trained to diagnose and treat issues relating to the implantation of artificial teeth. You should contact the oral surgeon who placed your implant as soon as you feel anything abnormal with your implant. If you feel the crown is loose, you should contact your dentist.

The Role of the Emergency Dentist

An emergency dentist can provide initial treatments for dental issues such as:

  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Toothaches
  • Dental abscess (bacterial infection in the tooth root)
  • Infections
  • Injuries to the gums and soft tissues
  • Lost dental restorations
  • Tooth extraction
  • Knocked-out tooth  

They can also provide advice on preventive measures and long-term treatment options. A dentist will typically refer you to an oral surgeon if they suspect that surgery may be necessary.

The Importance of Prompt Dental Care

Understanding the differences between an emergency dentist and an emergency oral surgeon is critical for obtaining the appropriate care during a dental emergency. Seeking prompt dental care is essential to address any oral health issues quickly and efficiently. Familiarize yourself with your local dental professionals and their specific services to ensure you receive the right treatment at the right time.

If you have experienced a dental emergency that requires surgery and you are looking for an oral surgeon near me, contact AZ Max Oral Surgeons at (480) 830-5866 or visit us at one of our five locations. Our surgeons are here to provide the highest quality of care and to help you achieve a healthy, confident smile. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I Seek Emergency Dental Care?

If you are experiencing severe tooth pain, a broken or loose tooth, a dental abscess, or any other oral health issue causing significant discomfort, it’s important to seek emergency dental care as soon as possible. Contact your dentist first, and they can advise on the best course of action.

Can an Emergency Dentist Perform Oral Surgery?

No, emergency dentists are not qualified to provide extensive oral surgery. They can, however, provide initial treatments and advice on preventive measures and long-term treatment options. If your dentist suspects you may need oral surgery, they will refer you to an emergency oral surgeon for further assessment and care.

What Types of Dental Emergencies Can an Emergency Dentist Handle?

Emergency dentists can provide initial treatments for dental issues such as broken or loose teeth, toothaches, abscesses, infections, injuries to the gums and soft tissues, and lost dental restorations. In cases where oral surgery is required, your dentist will refer you to an emergency oral surgeon.