If you lose a tooth due to an accident or injury, or your once-manageable tooth pain is suddenly more severe, do you know what actions to take? Learn about the most common dental emergencies, along with when you should make an emergency dental appointment.
Common Dental Emergencies
The American Dental Association (ADA) has identified the dental problems that require urgent care.1 Reading through the descriptions will help you be prepared if and when an emergency occurs.
Dental Injuries and Accidents
Healthy teeth are held firmly in place through connective tissue in your gums and jawbone. But a sports-related injury, an auto accident, or a fall can inflict trauma on your mouth and cause you to lose or break a tooth.
- If your tooth has been knocked out, quickly take action since there’s a limited amount of time when a dentist can save it (between 5 and 60 minutes).2 Call to make an emergency dental appointment, and then handle the tooth delicately without touching the root. Clean it with water and then put it in the empty socket while using firm but gentle pressure to hold it in place until you get to the dentist.
- If you break your tooth, you may not require emergency dental care unless the damage is severe. If the break is so significant that it exposes the pulp, you’ll need immediate treatment to prevent it from being infected. For more minor cracks, you’ll still need to repair the tooth, and your dentist will likely recommend a dental crown.
- If you chip your tooth, it’s not considered an emergency unless you’re in a lot of pain. If you can find the chipped pieces, the dentist may be able to reattach them with a bonding material.
Extreme Tooth Pain Or Swelling
Mild pain or sensitivity can wait, but you should immediately treat severe or persistent pain. The pain could be a result of several causes:
- Deep decay or a cracked tooth that exposes your tooth’s pulp. The pulp contains nerves, so the pain can be more extreme when bacteria or air reaches it.
- A dental abscess. The first sign of an abscess is a pocket of pus that results from a bacterial infection. An abscess can occur in the tip of the tooth root, between the teeth and gums, or exclusively in the gum tissue.
- A crack or fracture. The fracture could be the result of an injury, as described earlier, or from biting down on tough food or objects, such as candy, ice, or a pen.
Depending on the source and cause of the tooth pain, your dentist may need to provide emergency treatment, such as extraction, root canal treatment, or a deep cleaning process called scaling and root planing. During these procedures, you’ll stay comfortable, thanks to local anesthetics.
Sometimes an abscess will cause swelling instead of pain. Swelling that compromises your breathing is a medical emergency, and you’ll need to have to rush to a hospital emergency room.
Broken Or Lost Fillings
It may not seem like a lost or broken filling is an emergency unless you’re experiencing extreme pain due to nerve exposure. However, if you wait to replace or restore the filling right away, you will be more vulnerable to infection. Waiting too long may also cause damage to the nerve and require a root canal treatment.
Loose Crowns Or Bridges
Don’t put off making an appointment if a crown or bridge seems ill-fitting or loose. If you have a loose dental restoration, this may cause your teeth to shift and make it necessary to get a new fitting.
Wisdom Teeth Emergencies
After wisdom teeth extraction, some patients can develop a dry socket—when the blood clot that forms following the procedure dislodges. The condition can cause a great deal of discomfort and require a visit to the dentist to treat it.
But a more dangerous emergency can develop if the tissue surrounding partially erupted wisdom teeth begin to swell, and the infection spreads into the bloodstream. This condition—called pericoronitis—is very rare, but it could be life-threatening if it occurs.3
Call Empire Dental Care to Treat Common Dental Emergencies
At Empire Dental Care, we know that accidents can happen and that some dental problems are simply beyond your control. If you’re experiencing severe pain or swelling or have damaged a tooth or restoration, please call us at 585.671.1650. Dr. Tehila Cohen and her team will take good care of you and help you feel comfortable during a stressful situation.