What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

A Knocked Out Tooth

You may be thinking that the “emergency” here is the sheer amount of pain you’re going to be consumed with, and while that’s definitely a legitimate issue, it’s not the only one. If your tooth is still in-tact – that is to say, it isn’t in 2 or more pieces – it is possible for a dentist to re-insert the tooth and save it.

Time is of the essence! This same principle applies to your tooth as would apply to any other part of your body that was severed and needs to be reattached – you need to act fast!

Pick up the tooth by the crown – being careful not to touch the root – and gently rinse it off. (No scrubbing!)

Now, your best option is to put the tooth in a small container of milk and get to an emergency dentist as fast as possible.

A Broken Tooth

It’s strange, but sometimes a broken tooth doesn’t hurt, at least not right away. Other times, the pain can be overwhelming. In either case, if you’ve broken a tooth – whether it’s a chip, a crack, or you’re spitting out pieces – you should treat it as a dental emergency.

Beyond getting your pain under control, an emergency dentist can fix the damage before it gets worse. If your tooth is broken, it has severely weakened areas that are only going to get worse. This can be stopped with an emergency dental crown.

A Dental Abscess

An abscess is an inflamed pocket of pus forming near the tooth nerve, and it’s just as painful as it sounds. It usually appears at the gumline and resembles a pimple.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe tooth pain
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • A persistent headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes that are tender to the touch
  • Face swelling
  • Fever

That last one is important. Abscesses can cause fevers because they are quite literally a bodily infection. This infection can spread to the bloodstream, which can be potentially life-threatening.

Your Tooth is Loose

Adults with loose teeth need to worry. If a tooth falls out, we don’t get a new one without paying for it. Mother Nature already handed out that freebie. 

Your tooth could be loose for a number of reasons; trauma, infection, and gum disease are all factors that can lead to the loosening of a tooth, either gradually or quickly.

You Taste Metal

If you’ve ever had a metal filling and your mouth tastes like metal out of nowhere, it’s a clear sign that your filling has either become damaged or loose. This should be treated as a dental emergency because this situation makes your tooth vulnerable to new infections.

Painful or Bleeding Gums

If your gums bleed excessively when you brush your teeth or eat, especially if there’s pain involved, it’s a clear sign of periodontal disease, more commonly known simply as gum disease.

Over time, this can evolve into periodontitis which, unlike early gum disease, is irreversible. An emergency dentist can diagnose the problem and recommend the appropriate treatment.

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