By Dr. Brian McDonough

KYW’s Medical Reports Sponsored By Independence Blue Cross

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — I am not a dentist. Certainly my medical training is helpful in the understanding about some of the issues regarding teeth, but, just like most of us, when I have a toothache or other dental problem, my only thought is to get it fixed— and fast.

But does this mean a trip to the emergency room?

I can answer this for you. Not when it comes to problems with your teeth or mouth. The emergency room can handle just about anything, but for mouth-related issues your dentist is the better option. Dentists have the specialized equipment and training to figure out what is wrong with your mouth and how to fix it.

However, you might be surprised to know that the most recent study found 2.1 million people visited the emergency room for dental problems in 2010. Most of these visits were for tooth decay, which the emergency room isn’t able treat effectively.

So, if you think you have a broken jaw, or if your mouth is bleeding and won’t stop, then head to the emergency room. Certainly it is always a last ditch stop for tooth issues in an emergency, but you should reach out to a dentist first.

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