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Posted on: June 15, 2020
When to Seek Help for a Dental Emergency in Gainesville
What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?
While there are numerous problems that are considered a dental emergency by oral health professionals, you can ask yourself a few simple questions to determine if you require treatment from an emergency dentist. These include: Am I experiencing severe pain that’s not relieved by over-the-counter pain medication? Is the inside of my mouth injured? Is my injury causing bleeding? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you’re likely in an emergency situation.
These oral health problems are also considered a dental emergency in Gainesville:
- Loose, cracked, or chipped teeth
- Fever or chills associated with mouth pain
- A knocked-out-tooth
- Swollen airway that affects breathing
There are also issues that are less critical and usually aren’t considered an emergency, but they may require you to find a dentist who offers walk-in dental services. Examples include:
- Bleeding gums while brushing and flossing
- Losing a porcelain veneer, crown, or filling
- Damage to a dental bridge
- Sudden tooth sensitivity
7 Signs You Need Care for a Dental Emergency in Gainesville
Our dentists recommend seeking immediate emergency dental care if you or someone you love encounters any of these problems:
1. Facial swelling or pain: Facial swelling and pain can be caused by many conditions, such as an allergic reaction, an infection, TMJ dislocation, inflammation, or a fracture. All of these conditions are considered an emergency and require immediate care, so please call our office for urgent treatment if you experience them.
2. A fractured jaw: Jaw fractures can occur whenever you experience a significant impact to your lower face, such as a car accident or injury sustained from contact sports. If you’ve suffered a jaw injury, you should seek immediate care to prevent permanent alignment problems and to ensure that the surrounding teeth aren’t damaged.
3. A knocked-out-tooth: Although losing a tooth can be very distressing, if you receive prompt treatment, your dentist may be able to reinsert the tooth successfully. The American Association of Endodontists suggests that receiving care from a dentist within an hour of the injury significantly improves the outcome of treatment. Keeping an emergency tooth-preservation kit approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) can be helpful if you frequently engage in contact sports.
4. Dry socket pain and infection after extraction: A dry socket is a common complication after a tooth extraction, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can experience a dry socket if a blood clot doesn’t form properly over the area where the tooth was extracted. This can expose the bone and nerve to food, drink, and air. For many people, the pain is so intense that it can’t be relieved by taking over-the-counter medications. Common symptoms of infection include a foul odor, pain that radiates to the ear and neck, dizziness, and headache.
5. A gum injury: A cut or laceration to the gums requires a visit to a dentist right away. By receiving emergency treatment as soon as possible, the dentist can treat the existing wound and make sure the surrounding teeth are healthy.
6. A fractured or loose filling: If a broken or loose filling rubs against your cheek or tongue, they can injure them. The exposed tooth is also susceptible to damage. To prevent these problems from occurring, you should receive treatment as soon as possible if you have a fractured or loose filling.
7. Excessive bleeding that does not stop: Emergency care is required whenever you experience hemorrhaging that can’t be stopped at home after a tooth extraction, trauma to the face, or a car accident.
Why You Should Never Delay Emergency Treatment for a Tooth Abscess
An abscess is a serious bacterial infection that can turn deadly if treatment isn’t received. The infection develops when a pocket of pus forms around a tooth’s root or the gum tissue, damaging the gums, bone, and teeth surrounding the area of infection.
If left untreated, an abscess has a 40% mortality rate if treatment isn’t received in a timely manner, leading to irritation and swelling developing between the lungs in the mid-chest area, which is an extremely serious condition known as mediastinitis. Some patients may also develop a life-threatening infection called sepsis that rapidly spreads throughout the body. Fortunately, an abscess typically has a high recovery rate when treated early.
These are the warning signs of an abscess:
- Throbbing tooth pain
- Pain that spreads to jaw, neck, or ear
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Swelling in the face or cheek
Seek emergency dental care right away if you notice any of these symptoms. Eliminating the infection is the main goal of treatment, which involves draining the abscess, prescribing antibiotics, and determining whether the tooth can be saved with a root canal, or if an extraction is necessary.
Why Is a Cracked Tooth an Emergency?
Do you frequently open packages with your teeth? Maybe you regularly play football or hockey, or perhaps you have a long-term tooth grinding habit. All of these activities can cause a chipped or cracked tooth. Remaining calm is important in this type of emergency situation, and you should immediately rinse out your mouth with water to clean the area. Then, make a call to our office to receive advice on the next steps to take.
If a small piece of tooth has chipped off and isn’t causing you any pain, it’s typically not an emergency situation, and we’ll help you schedule an appointment so your tooth can be repaired. Swelling can usually be controlled by placing a cold compress near the affected area, and over-the-counter pain medication can help with minor discomfort. If you’re experiencing extreme pain after chipping or cracking a tooth, same-day treatment from a dentist is usually needed.
To protect your teeth from such an emergency in the future, we recommend wearing a sports mouthguard if you frequently play contact sports. If you have bruxism (teeth grinding), you can wear a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth while sleeping. For a custom fit, your dentist can design a mouthguard that fits the unique shape of your mouth.
Practicing good oral hygiene at home and seeing your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and exams are two ways to minimize your risk of having a dental emergency. If you’re experiencing a dental emergency in Gainesville, our team of experienced and caring dentists is available to help when you need it most. Call our office right away if you’re looking for emergency services.