Which Issues Qualify as Dental Emergencies?
Many people take little notice of their teeth other than daily brushing and flossing, but they’re actually vital tools that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Though our teeth are obviously essential for speaking clearly and eating properly, their jobs run much deeper than those aspects. They help strengthen the jawbones and fill out our faces to keep our cheeks from looking sunken. On top of that, the teeth are our keys to being able to consume a healthy, well-rounded diet.
When a dental problem arises, most people want to get it taken care of as quickly as possible. That being said, some require immediate attention whereas others can be placed on the back burner for a short while without having serious consequences. Understanding which issues qualify as dental emergencies that warrant fast action can make a world of difference in your overall health.
What Is a Dental Emergency?
By definition, a dental emergency is a situation involving your teeth, gums, or jawbones that could negatively impact your health. Without emergency dental care, they could potentially place your life in danger or, at the very least, detract from your well-being in some way. Dental emergencies come in many forms, and we’re going to cover some of the most common to give you a better idea of which problems fall into this category.
Everyone is bound to have a toothache here and there. Anyone who hasn’t yet undoubtedly will at some point. Toothaches can range from mild to severe and come from any number of sources. Some common causes of toothaches are tooth decay, biting down on hard objects, sinus infections, and mouth injuries.
If your tooth is aching a bit but isn’t causing constant, unbearable pain, it’s not considered an emergency situation. You should certainly make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as possible, though. On the other hand, if you have an unrelenting toothache that’s causing the entire side of your head to hurt, and the mere thought of eating makes it feel even worse, you have a dental emergency.
In such cases, the pulp inside the tooth is most likely inflamed or infected. Infections and inflammation may ease off for a while, but they won’t go away without treatment. They’ll only get worse and possibly spread to other areas of the body. If an infection in the tooth spreads, it can have potentially life-threatening effects on the heart, lungs, and other organs. Don’t try to power through the pain; seek emergency dental care.
Mouth or Tooth Injuries
According to a recent report, more than five million people sustain mouth injuries each year. Many of these come from automobile accidents, falls, and participating in sports, but those aren’t the only instances in which mouth injuries occur. Some of the results of those injuries are broken jawbones, cracked or chipped teeth, and dislodged teeth.
If you’ve received an injury of the mouth, don’t hesitate to request emergency dental services. Cracked and chipped teeth can pave the way for excruciating pain, infections, and many other problems. Fractured jawbones can lead to loose teeth, bite alignment issues, and a range of additional complications.
Even if the injury didn’t immediately result in broken, loose, or missing teeth; broken jawbones; or mouth pain, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. Those other problems can easily arise after the fact. Seeing an emergency dentist now can help prevent more extensive and painful issues in the future.
Swelling of the Jaws or Gums
Swelling in the jaws or gums is often a sign of a dental abscess. Having a swollen, tender lump under your chin or in your neck can be an indication of an abscess as well. Dental abscesses are pockets of pus that come from infections, and they’re often accompanied by severe tooth pain. They can lead to serious health issues if they’re not taken care of quickly.
If you develop a dental abscess, you may also experience fever, chills, headaches, dizziness, and a bad taste in your mouth. All those are telltale signs that your body is trying to fight off an infection in a tooth or the gum tissue. You need antibiotics and may also require additional treatment from the dentist to eliminate the infection.
Persistent Mouth Sores
Most people experience canker sores from time to time. They can often be treated with topical pain relievers, salt water rinses, and other simple remedies. If you have sores or lesions in your mouth that don’t start healing after a couple of weeks, though, you need to seek emergency dental care.
Persistent mouth sores can be warning signs of serious health issues. These include vitamin and mineral deficiencies, digestive system disorders, viral infections, certain types of arthritis, immune system deficiencies, and oral cancers. Your dentist can determine if one of these issues may be causing your mouth sores that won’t heal and help point you in the right direction to get further treatment.
It’s not uncommon for the gums to bleed as a result of overenthusiastic brushing or flossing. Bleeding gums is also a typical side effect of mouth injuries. If your gums seem to be bleeding heavily or the bleeding doesn’t slow down or stop fairly quickly, though, you may have a dental emergency on your hands. Contact your dentist for an emergency appointment as quickly as possible if you experience this problem.
Get the Emergency Dental Care You Need
Not all toothaches or mouth injuries qualify as dental emergencies. Mild, intermittent tooth pain and occasional light bleeding of the gums may be signs that you should see a dentist, but they don’t necessarily require immediate care.
Severe pain; broken teeth; having a tooth knocked out; receiving a serious mouth injury; and swelling of the gums, jaws, or lymph nodes are all instances in which you should set up an emergency dental visit. Gum bleeding that’s severe or won’t stop and mouth sores that just won’t heal are also reasons to seek immediate help. Never assume the problem will simply go away on its own, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel you need emergency dental care.