How to Know if You Need an Emergency Dentist
Going to the dentist isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite thing to do.
In fact, some people avoid the dentist altogether. This may be due to severe dental anxiety or one bad experience in the past. But, everyone needs a dentist!
This is especially true if you find yourself in an emergency dental situation.
In the event that something severe happens to your teeth, gums, or even your jaw, you have to contact an emergency dentist.
Here are some examples of what may cause this need.
- You Have an Intense Toothache
It’s one thing to experience a bit of a toothache after eating something particularly cold or crunchy. This may be a sign of tooth sensitivity, but it doesn’t always call for an emergency dentist visit.
If you have a significant, long-lasting pain in a tooth, though, your case is worth looking into.
Such an ache could be the first sign of an infection in the root of the tooth or along the gums, or even another problem you can’t see with the naked eye. This could happen to a naked tooth or to one that has had previous filling or crown work done.
- A Tooth Is Loose, Chipped, or Broken
Although the root of an ache is not as easy to see right away, there is no denying a loose, chipped, or broken tooth. This is something you can feel or see as soon as it happens and it requires immediate attention.
A loose tooth could simply be the result of biting down on something the wrong way. Or, it could be more drastic like a decaying tooth or an issue with any dental gear you wear.
Similarly, a chipped or broken tooth could be the result of many things. But, this doesn’t have to be the way your smile looks forever. There are many forms of cosmetic dentistry and fillings available to make you look good as new.
Exploring these options begins with a visit to your emergency dentist, though.
- A Filling or Other Dental Tool is Damaged
Speaking of cosmetic dentistry, what happens if this the kind of dental issue you are having?
You don’t necessarily need to go back to the dentist who first did your filling or fixed your smile. A local emergency dentist might be able to step in where they left off. This all depends on the kind of work you had done and how severe the damage is, though.
One quick consultation can tell you everything you need to know. It gets you in the door of an emergency office to provide you with all the next steps to look and feel as good as new.
- Your Gums Bleed or Ache
Bleeding gums or an ache in the area around your teeth could be another reason you need an emergency dental visit.
This condition is a sign of poor dental care.
It is often caused by lack of frequent brushing or flossing. Then, when you do go to clean your teeth, your gums begin to bleed. If it happens frequently, your gums may burn or bleed randomly as time goes on.
Not to mention, it’s not the best look. Get to the emergency dentist as soon as you can to keep this problem from progressing.
- Your Jaw Is Swollen
Bleeding or aching gums are one way to notice if you have an infection growing underneath the teeth. A more serious – and demanding – sign is a swollen jaw.
This could be the result of an infection in the gums as well as the salivary glands.
A salivary gland infection is not something to take lightly. It can create trouble chewing and swallowing, altering your diet significantly until it is cured.
This infection also has the possibility of causing a bad taste in your mouth, a head cold, or trouble breathing. Sometimes, such symptoms can lead to sleep apnea or bad coughing.
Stop all of these issues before they start. Your emergency dentist can help, and your body will thank you.
- You Have a Growing Dental Abscess
Another dental issue to treat as soon as you can is an abscess.
This the final straw to take care of an infected tooth. An abscess occurs when pus forms around a tooth infection. The pus gathers together in a small pocket underneath the gums, which will look like a bump to the naked eye.
This can sometimes be painful, although the level of discomfort varies.
Either way, it is not something you should just keep as is. The abscess may grow in size or spread your infection to neighboring teeth.
- Your Canker Sore Hasn’t Gone Away
A canker sore is kind of like the more common, less serious cousin of a dental abscess. These are wounds that appear on the soft tissue inside the lips or around the gums.
Canker sores vary in size and strength. Some are minor and can be treated at home. Others need immediate attention due to their extremity – sometimes appearing in clusters of ten or more in the most severe cases.
If you try to tough your canker sore(s) out, but to no avail, it’s time to call an emergency dentist. Their efforts will be much more effective than your DIY approach to dentistry.
- Your Mouth Tastes Like Metal
When your mouth tastes like metal, it is not because of something bad you ate.
This is most commonly caused by some sort of damage to a piece of metal you have in your mouth. Such dental materials may be braces, a filling, or a crown. When these items become loose or broken, the taste in your mouth will tell the difference.
But, only a dentist will be able to find the right solution.
Do I really have to go to the dentist every six months? Do I need x-rays at each visit?
How often you go for dental exams depends on your oral health needs. The goal is to catch small problems early. For many people, this means a dental exam every six months. Your dentist may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums, problems you have that need to be checked or treated, how fast tartar builds up on your teeth, and so on.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I floss every day?
- Do I brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and follow my dentist’s instructions on how to brush properly?
- Do I eat a well-balanced diet, including food from all food groups, and limit sweets and sticky foods?
- Do I smoke?
- Do I have a history of cavities or gum disease?
- Is my overall health good?
The answers to these questions are all factors that affect your oral health. They will help you and your dentist decide how often you need to visit for dental exams. It’s worth noting that you should not determine your need for dental care on what your dental plan covers.
Do I need x-rays at each visit?
How often you need to have x-rays also depends on your oral health. A healthy adult who has not had cavities or other problems for a couple of years probably won’t need x-rays at every appointment. If your dental situation is less stable and your dentist is monitoring your progress, you may require more frequent x-rays.
If you are not sure why a particular x-ray is being taken, ask your dentist. Remember that dental x-rays deliver very little radiation; they are a vital tool for your dentist to ensure that small problems don’t develop into bigger ones.
Dangers of Ignoring Wisdom Teeth Pain
In some cases, patients don’t have wisdom teeth removed because they do not have an effect on the rest of the teeth or jaw. Alternatively, these molars will keep growing until they cause dental issues for most people, in addition to the pain and discomfort described earlier.
Even if they haven’t broken through the surface of your gums yet, you could have parts of your wisdom teeth growing sideways into the surrounding molars or jaw bone. This is known as an impacted tooth and can potentially cause severe health and dental problems.
In addition, the increased pressure caused by the wisdom teeth may result in numbness in your jaw and face. Because most wisdom teeth do not grow in perfectly straight, infections, irritation, and overcrowding are almost certain if the wisdom teeth are not removed This could eventually lead to the need for orthodontic or periodontal treatments, so you should consider removing your wisdom teeth before getting braces.
If you can’t see your dentist right away when experiencing discomfort, there are home remedies that will alleviate some of the pain caused by wisdom teeth until you can see a dental professional.
A knocked-out adult tooth can usually be saved by putting it back in place or in milk as soon as possible, before seeing a dentist.
What to do if a tooth has been knocked out
If it’s an adult (permanent) tooth:
- Hold it by the white bit that sticks out of the gum (the crown). Do not touch the root.
- Lick it clean if it’s dirty, or quickly rinse it in cold running water for no more than 10 seconds.
- Try to put it back into the hole in the gum. If it does not go in easily:
- put it in milk
- put it in saliva – by spitting into a container (if it’s your tooth) or having your child spit into a container (if it’s theirs)
- hold it in your cheek until you see the dentist – but do not have younger children do this in case they swallow it
- If it goes back in, bite down gently on a clean cloth to hold the tooth in place.
If it’s a baby tooth:
- do not put it back in – it could damage the tooth growing underneath
If you do not know if it’s an adult or baby tooth:
- put it in milk or saliva (by having your child spit into a container) and bring it to the dentist
It’s time to take high-tech dental x-rays
Once your paperwork is caught up, a team member will walk you back to take a digital x-ray of your mouth. These x-rays help reveal tooth decay, jaw bone issues, and other dental health concerns.
Though some people may find this process a little awkward, it’s quite fast and not at all painful. We’ll do all we can to make sure you feel at ease throughout.
Here’s how it works:
- You’ll sit upright in a chair — feel free to scoot back and get comfortable!
- Your dental technician will place a lead apron over your chest — while this apron feels a little heavy, we find many people find it comforting!
- We’ll gently situate an x-ray sensor in your mouth — the technician will walk you through how to bite down and hold it properly. We’ll take our time to make sure it’s not causing you any discomfort or gag reflexes.
- Once the sensor is in place, the technician will turn on the machine and take the x-ray image — this takes a couple seconds
- The technician will review the images as they are taken and we’ll move the senor a few times in your mouth to make sure we get a good look at your entire mouth.
It’s a fast process and when we review the x-rays with you later, you’ll get a really interesting look at what’s going on under the surface of your mouth!