A dental emergency can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, and perhaps more importantly, it is something that if not dealt with in a timely matter can cause much bigger issues for your dental and overall health. But what exactly constitutes a dental emergency?
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself that may help you determine if a particular dental issue is
in fact an emergency.
- Is there severe pain?
- Have you lost a tooth.
- Are any of your teeth loose?
- Does there appear to be an infection?
- Is your mouth bleeding?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the issue could be a dental emergency. If immediate dental treatment is required to save a tooth, alleviate severe pain, or stop bleeding, it should be considered a dental emergency. This is also the case if there is a severe infection as this can be life- threatening.
What are some common dental emergencies?
Here are a few of the most common dental emergencies and what you should do until you can get yourself to an emergency dentist.
An unexplained toothache could be a symptom of a more serious issue and you should get to a dentist as soon as possible to diagnose and treat the problem. In the meantime, you may be able to alleviate some of the pain by rinsing your mouth with saltwater, applying a cold compress or using over the counter pain medicine.
Swollen or bleeding gums
Although gum irritation in itself isn’t necessarily an emergency, if your gums won’t stop bleeding and there is pain and swelling, you should see your dentist right away.
Swollen jaw or mouth
If your mouth or jaw becomes swollen without any obvious reason, this could be a sign of infection or a problem with your lymph nodes. If you experience this, you should get emergency dental treatment right away.
When nerves are exposed, it can be extremely painful. In order to prevent further damage, you should seek out emergency treatment immediately.
Having a tooth knocked out can be very upsetting but it’s important to stay calm and take action as this will give you the best chance of saving your tooth.
Prior to going to the dentist, you should:
- Pick up the tooth taking care not to touch the root.
- Rinse the tooth but do not scrub it.
- If possible, put the tooth back into the socket.
- If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place it in a container of milk or water.
- Get to the dentist as quickly as possible.
Lost filling or broken crown
A lost filling or broken crown may or may not be a dental emergency, but you should contact your dentist if this happens because it can make your tooth more likely to break or chip or even expose the nerves of the tooth which can lead to other issues.
An abscessed tooth is what occurs when there is a pocket of pus in the tooth that causes an infection. This is a severe and possibly even life-threatening condition as it can spread to your jaw and even other parts of your body. See a dentist right away if you suspect a dental abscess. Symptoms of an abscessed tooth may include:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Swelling in the face
- Tender lymph nodes
- A bump on your gums close to the infected tooth
Food or other object stuck between teeth
If you get a piece of food or something else lodged between your teeth and you are unable to remove it with flossing, you should see your dentist right away. If the object is not removed, it can lead to gum disease, tooth decay or infection – in some cases it can even cause your teeth to shift.