A: That one runs the gamut. So, a few obvious ones would be—pain, problems that don’t allow patients to sleep or chew. Swellings that are causing pain or fever. Toothaches that might hurt when they drink cold beverages or eat sweets. Some patients might find a missing tooth an emergency because they have an interview the next day or a function that’s important to them. They want to be able to smile and to look their best. So, it can run from the obvious pain and infection to something that’s just been bothering the patient for a long time and they want to fix it now.
Do you think you might be having a dental emergency? First, don’t freak out—most emergencies with teeth are nowhere near as serious as medical emergencies. In most cases, it’s the fact that you’re in serious pain or there is a potential for it, not that there is a serious threat to your health.
Dental Issues That Might Require An Emergency Dentist
When you feel you may have a dental emergency, even if you’re not sure, you should still call your dentist ASAP for direction. However, if you can’t get hold of your normal dentist the main thing you should determine is whether you really have a dental emergency. If you’re not sure what constitutes a dental emergency, refer to this quick list of common dental situations and what to do.
Swollen Face—DENTAL EMERGENCY
- A severe oral infection that needs immediate care from a dentist. These conditions don’t typically resolve themselves.
- The source could be an infected tooth, infection in the jawbone, or an infection of your gums.
What to do:
- Do not hesitate. Go see your dentist immediately—delay in treating the issue could result in fatal consequences. An untreated infection can get into the bloodstream which spreads the infection rapidly.
- Stay upright DO NOT LIE DOWN, sleep sitting up in a recliner or sofa as upright as possible.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration will complicate matters further
Knocked-Out A Tooth—POSSIBLE EMERGENCY
- If the tooth is not recoverable, you will need a dental implant. An implant fills in the void in your jawbone where the root once was. This preserves jawbone integrity and structure.
- If you can put the tooth back in its socket within an hour of losing it, the odds are good that it can be saved. If it’s reimplanted right, you might still need a root canal, but it’s more affordable than getting an implant.
What to do:
- When you pick it up, do so by the crown (the part you normally see), not the root (the pointy end). If you touch the root, you damage the tissue that might make reimplantation possible.
- For an adult tooth and an adult tooth only—this might make you a bit queasy, but try sticking the tooth back in the socket. Before attempting though, look at the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. Make sure you are placing it in the right way and again, DO NOT touch the root. If you’re not sure about this just get to the dentist ASAP.
- Call your dentist and advise them of the situation and how long the tooth has been out so they can prepare. If they can’t see you within an hour, then go to an emergency dentist.
Broken, Cracked, or Chipped Tooth—RELAX
- Typically, if it’s only a tiny crack you’ll just need a filling, but if it’s a larger crack then a crown is in order. However, if it’s cracked through and through, you will need to have the tooth extracted and get an implant.
What to do:
- Don’t panic! Just relax, if you’re not experiencing any pain then you have a lot of time to take care of it. Often, teeth crack or chip and it’s not painful, only some minor sensitivity to hot and cold foods. That sensitivity will subside in several hours as saliva will insulate the cracked area.
- Just call your regular dentist to schedule a visit to see if you need a filling, crown, or extraction depending on the severity. You’ll then have a second visit to perform whatever procedure the dentist determines is needed.
Bleeding From The Mouth—DEPENDS ON SITUATION
- Bleeding from the mouth could mean something minor, or it could mean something fairly serious. It all depends on the surrounding circumstances. If you see blood when you floss—it’s likely gum disease, it can wait for an appointment. However, blood in your saliva could be a sign of advanced-stage cancer or advanced gum disease. Either one should still be seen as serious, but not a dental emergency.
- Now, if you have had a surgical procedure such as an extraction, and you are bleeding and can’t get it to stop—that’s an emergency.
What to do:
- If it’s just blood on the floss, make an appointment and let the doctor treat it. Don’t let it go untreated or you could develop an infection—and that IS an emergency.
- If you’re bleeding after a procedure, contact the dentist that did the procedure immediately. Bleeding should not continue the night following your procedure, so something isn’t right. Keep your head upright and your mouth above your heart—don’t lie flat.
Gum Abscess—POSSIBLE EMERGENCY
- A gum abscess kind of resembles a red, yellow, whitish, or clear pimple on the surface of your gums.
- It could mean the tooth is infected or the gum is infected which means you need an extraction or a root canal. Some cases might require antibiotics and an x-ray.
- If you do not tend to this ASAP it may lead to permanent gum recession. The sooner it’s treated, the less likely that occurs.
What to do:
- This needs immediate attention but may not require a visit to an emergency dentist if after hours. Make an appointment for the following day—if that’s not available then see an emergency dentist.
- Do not attempt to pop or puncture the abscess.
- Make an appointment for the next day.
- Do not stop brushing and flossing where the abscess is. Continue to use mouthwash several times throughout the day.
Pain When You Bite—RELAX
- Pain, when you bite, could signify a cracked tooth—but you can mitigate the damage. If you catch it soon enough and crown it—you’re less likely to lose it or need a root canal.
- However, it might also not be tooth pain at all—it could actually be muscle pain. Muscle pain can be caused by a lot of things. Most often, it’s due to teeth grinding when you sleep or during the day. Grinding is usually a subconscious habit and is often a sign of excess stress. This is not an emergency, so just make an appointment at your convenience.
What to do:
- Make an appointment within the next few days to confirm the cause of the pains.
- Do not chew anything on that tooth, if it is a crack—agitating it could result in losing the tooth.
Something Lodged Between Your Teeth—RELAX
- Usually, if something stuck in your teeth is giving you pain, it’s due to a common issue—foreign body reaction. This is a condition where something such as a popcorn kernel hull gets stuck between your tooth and the fold of your gum. The body sees it as a threat and pumps blood to the area causing it to become inflamed which causes a lot of pain.
- If the problem happens often you might have a tooth spacing issue and will need to get that fixed.
What to do:
- This is not a serious issue just use some floss with knots tied in it to dislodge the particles trapped. If flossing is hard for you with regular dental floss, try a floss stick from Oral-B or other brands. To prevent this from getting irritated when food gets lodged in the future—floss this way after meals.
Do You Need To See An Emergency Dentist In San Antonio?
If you are sure that you do have a serious dental problem call JH Emergency Dental. In most cases, we can make same-day appointments when regular dentists can’t. We accept most insurance and also offer flexible payment and financing options. Contact us right away!