Do You Have a Dental Emergency? Five Reasons to Seek Immediate Care

Dental emergencies are more common than you may think. According to the American Family Physician (AFP), 22% of Americans sought emergency dental care for their pain in the last six months.

An emergency is any type of symptom that indicates that you’re at risk for an infection or that you’re about to lose your tooth. Chipped teeth, cracked teeth, bleeding, and loose teeth are all considered emergencies because they could all cause permanent damage. Abscesses also require immediate treatment, as the infection can spread into your jaw and the surrounding tissue. 

Not sure if you need emergency care? We asked our specialist, Dr. Richard Higgs, about how to know when it’s time to rush to the emergency care room.

1. Severe pain

No, you don’t have to spend the entire night staring at the ceiling praying the pain will go away on its own. Severe pain is a good enough reason to seek emergency dental care. 

In many cases, severe dental pain occurs due to infections, deep cavities, and damaged fillings. Even if painkillers do help a bit, if an infection is causing the pain, you'll still need emergency care and antibiotic treatment.

2. Knocked out or loose tooth

Time is essential if your tooth is loose or knocked out due to trauma. In order to have a high chance of saving your tooth, you have 30 minutes to an hour to see a dentist. 

To increase your chances even further, preserve the tooth in a container with milk, and don’t let the roots get dry. Also, don’t use anything else but plain water to wash the tooth, as the roots may die off when exposed to mouthwash or disinfectants. 

3. Facial swelling 

Swelling is a symptom that you may have a pocket of pus at the root of your tooth, also known as an abscess. Along with swelling, you may also experience pain, bad breath, swollen gums, and sensitivities to hot and cold foods. 

Abscesses are dangerous because they can spread. Fortunately, infections are also easy to treat by draining the pus, performing a root canal, or killing off the bacteria with antibiotics.  

4. Inflammation of a partially erupted tooth

If your tooth stops from erupting, bacteria can get trapped in the flap resting on the surface of the tooth, causing plaque and infections. 

This phenomenon, known as pericoronitis, occurs when wisdom teeth stop growing and are partially covered by gum tissue. If left untreated, pericoronitis can lead to swollen lymph nodes, difficulty opening the mouth, bad breath, and pain.

5. Bleeding in the gums 

Bleeding is common, especially if you suffer from gingivitis or use a toothbrush with hard bristles. However, it’s uncommon to not be able to control the bleeding after you finish brushing. 

If your bleeding doesn’t stop within minutes after brushing, you may have a deep wound that requires urgent medical attention.

Don’t wait out on your symptoms 

If you’re unsure whether or not you need emergency dental care, contact us and describe your symptoms to determine if your problem needs immediate care or if you can schedule it for another day. 

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