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Posted on: June 15, 2020
When to Seek Help for a Dental Emergency in Arlington
What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?
It’s important to be able to distinguish between a dental emergency that requires immediate treatment or a less urgent issue that can wait a few days until you can be seen by your dentist. If you’re experiencing mouth pain that’s affecting your ability to sleep or impacting other areas of your life, and the pain isn’t relieved by over-the-counter pain medication, you should seek the help of an emergency dentist. Most oral health professionals also recommend seeking emergency treatment for any injury that affects the mouth’s soft tissues, including the cheeks, tongue, or lips.
We also encourage you to receive treatment as soon as possible if you’ve developed these symptoms of a dental emergency in Arlington:
- Fever or chills associated with mouth pain
- Loose, cracked, or chipped teeth
- A knocked-out tooth
- A mouth injury with excessive bleeding
While the following examples are not true emergency situations, you should still be seen by a dentist who provides same-day walk-in dental services:
- Bleeding gums while brushing and flossing
- Damage to a dental bridge
- Sudden tooth sensitivity
- Losing a porcelain veneer, crown, or filling
7 Signs You Have a Dental Emergency in Arlington
Take a look at these seven common emergencies, so you know what to look for when considering whether to visit your dentist:
1. Facial swelling and pain: Swelling and pain around the jaws, neck, or face is considered an emergency because there are many serious conditions that cause these symptoms. These include an abscess, TMJ dislocation, infection, an allergic reaction, inflammation, or a fracture.
2. A knocked-out tooth: Acting quickly can make a major difference when you experience a knocked-out tooth. For instance, the American Association of Endodontists recommends receiving treatment from a dentist within the first hour of knocking out a tooth to ensure the best treatment outcome. Your dentist may also suggest adding an emergency tooth-preservation product to your first aid kit if you frequently play high-impact sports. We recommend a product that’s approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
3. Dry socket pain and infection after extraction: Dry socket is the most common complication that can occur after a tooth is removed, according to the Mayo Clinic. This complication occurs when a blood clot fails to form properly before the extraction site has completely healed, exposing the nerve and bone. For many patients, the pain can become quite intense and may not be relieved through over-the-counter medications alone. Call our office right away if you experience any of these symptoms following a tooth extraction: bad breath, severe pain, headache, or pain that spreads to the ear and neck.
4. Gum injury: An injury or laceration to the soft tissues of the mouth, including the gums, lips, tongue, and cheeks, is a serious issue that must be evaluated by a dentist, who will treat the existing wound and examine the surrounding teeth.
5. Uncontrolled bleeding: An accident, injury, or complication from a tooth extraction that causes excessive bleeding requires emergency treatment if you’re unable to stop the bleeding on your own.
6. A fractured or dislodged filling: If a filling becomes dislodged or fractured, the rough, sharp edges can scrape the side of your cheek or tongue, causing injury. It’s important to see a dentist who can replace the filling and prevent the exposed tooth from further damage.
7. A fractured jaw: If you’ve suffered an injury to the face and think you might have a fractured jaw, it’s crucial to seek emergency care to prevent serious alignment problems and permanent damage to your teeth.
Does a Tooth Abscess Require Emergency Treatment?
An abscessed tooth is a serious bacterial infection that won’t subside without the help of emergency dental services. An abscess develops when dangerous bacteria and pus form in the root of a tooth or between the gums and teeth, resulting in damage to the bone, gums, and teeth near the infected area. An abscess can form as a result of an untreated cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth that allows bacteria to infect the inside of the affected tooth.
Sepsis, an infection that spreads through the bloodstream, and mediastinitis are two of the most dangerous complications that can develop when a tooth abscess isn’t treated promptly. Mediastinitis is a life-threatening condition that causes swelling and irritation in the middle of the chest, near the lungs, and it has a survival rate of only 60%. However, when treated before the infection progresses, the success rate for treatment of a tooth abscess is very high.
These are the signs of a tooth abscess to be aware of:
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Throbbing tooth pain
- Swelling in the face or cheek
- Pain that spreads to jaw, neck, or ear
Call your dentist right away if you notice any of these symptoms. Your dentist will consider a variety of treatment methods based on the severity of the infection, including draining the pus and treating the infection with antibiotics. If the abscess is caused by a cracked or severely decayed tooth, a root canal will be performed to restore the tooth. An extraction may be required if the tooth can’t be saved.
Does a Cracked Tooth Need Emergency Treatment?
Doing things such as grinding your teeth, playing sports, or biting onto a piece of hard candy or ice can lead to a cracked or chipped tooth. If you sustain this type of emergency, don’t panic. Your dentist can perform a variety of treatments to restore your tooth. One of the first things you should do if you chip or crack a tooth is rinse your mouth with warm water to ensure the area is clean. Call our office right away for information regarding your next steps.
Same-day treatment is needed if your tooth is significantly damaged, you’re feeling intense pain, or if the area is bleeding. The good news is that if you only have a minor chip that affects the tooth enamel, it’s typically not considered an emergency, and an appointment can be made to restore the tooth. There are self-care measures you can take if you can wait a few days to see your dentist, such as taking over-the-counter pain relievers for mild discomfort and applying a cold compress to the facial area to control swelling.
If you chipped or cracked your tooth as a result of a sports injury or grinding your teeth (bruxism), your dentist will recommend wearing a mouthguard to protect against this type of emergency in the future. Mouthguards for bruxism are worn while sleeping, and both types of mouthguards can be custom made by a dentist to fit the individual shape of your teeth.
Experiencing a sudden dental emergency can be frightening and incredibly stressful, but our caring and experienced dentists are here to help. Call our office right away if you think you require emergency services, and we’ll help you determine the best course of action. Time is of the essence when a dental emergency in Arlington occurs, so please don’t delay.