There’s nothing worse than realizing you have an oral issue. This is usually because it’s often difficult to determine whether you’re dealing with a dental emergency or a problem you can handle yourself.
Understanding what dental emergencies are as well as the difference between a dental issue that can threaten your health and one you can put off until your next dental appointment is important. In this post, Dr. Martin explains what a dental emergency is and discusses the signs you need to see your emergency dentist in Charlotte, NC.
What is a dental emergency?
A dental emergency is any dental problem that requires immediate treatment to stop bleeding, alleviate severe pain and discomfort, or save a tooth. This also applies to oral infections that can be life-threatening.
Dental emergencies like tooth or gum injuries should not be ignored as they can be potentially serious. Ignoring a dental issue can lead to more significant problems, increase the risk of permanent damage, and the need for more expensive and extensive treatment.
Not all dental problems qualify as an emergency. If you think you have a dental issue or an emergency, your best bet is to visit your dentist to preserve your oral health.
8 Common Types of Dental Emergencies and Their Treatment Options
Here are some of the most common types and signs of dental emergencies to look out for to determine whether you need emergency dental service or can wait until your next dental office visit.
1. You Have a Loose, Fractured, or Knocked-Out Tooth
If your teeth are wiggly, loose, broken, fractured, or knocked out of your mouth, you need to see your dentist immediately. A loose, chipped, broken, fractured, or knocked-out tooth could point to a localized infection such as gum disease or tooth decay. It could also indicate a tooth injury usually caused by a sports injury, a car accident, or a heavy impact from falling.
If your tooth is knocked out, do the following before you visit your dentist:
- Pick it up carefully (do not touch its root)
- Rinse it (do not scrub it)
- Try to reinsert it into its socket
- If you can’t reinsert it, place it in a container of milk or water
- Visit your dentist immediately to increase your chances of saving your natural tooth
By taking quick action, Dr. Martin can reinsert the affected tooth to preserve it or identify the root cause of the issue and provide you with a lasting solution.
2. You Have a Severe Toothache
Dental pain and discomfort are not something you should overlook or ignore. They’re your body’s way of expressing a problem in your mouth that you need to address. If you experience sudden or unexplainable tooth pain, or the severity of your toothache has increased, visit your Charlotte emergency dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Depending on the cause of the pain, your dentist may recommend pain medication, antibiotics, dental fillings, or a root canal to alleviate your pain.
3. Your Gums Bleed, Ache, or Become Swollen
Dental problems like occasional gum irritation do not count as a dental emergency. However, gums with recurring or excessive bleeding can indicate an underlying issue, especially if accompanied by dental pain and swelling. If left untreated, these symptoms (especially if caused by periodontal disease) can reach the point of no return.
When you come into our office, Dr. Martin will thoroughly examine your mouth and may recommend any of the following treatment options:
- Oral rinses to reduce plaque, stop bleeding, and prevent gingivitis
- Fluoride treatment to strengthen your teeth
- Dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar irritating your gums
- Antibiotics and pain relievers to kill bacteria and reduce pain
- At-home care like salt water rinses, cold and warm compresses, etc.
- Oral surgery (for a severe case of gum disease)
4. Your Jaw or Mouth is Swollen
It’s time to visit your emergency dentist for immediate treatment if your jaw or mouth suddenly becomes swollen for no apparent reason. A swollen mouth or jaw can indicate lymph node irritation, a serious infection, or an underlying issue that requires immediate attention.
5. You’ve Noticed Signs of an Abscessed Tooth
A dental abscess is a severe, painful, and potentially life-threatening infection usually found at the root of an infected tooth. It is usually caused by untreated cavities, severe gum disease, or any trauma to the teeth, like a cracked or chipped tooth. If you have an abscessed tooth, you may experience the symptoms below:
- Sensitive tooth
- Foul taste in the mouth
- Tender lymph nodes in your neck
- Persistent toothache
- Swollen face
- Pimple-like bumps on your gums
You should visit Dr. Martin immediately for treatment if you notice the signs of a dental abscess. This is because the infection can spread beyond your mouth and cause issues in other areas of your body. Dr. Martin will examine your mouth to diagnose the problem correctly and may recommend any of the following treatment options:
- Draining the abscess
- Performing a root canal
- Prescribing antibiotics
- Pulling or extracting the affected (severely damaged) tooth
6. Your Mouth Tastes Like Metal (Or Your Dental Filling is Missing)
If you’ve had dental fillings in the past and your mouth suddenly begins to taste like metal, your old metal filling might be cracked or loose. A loose or missing filling is a potential dental emergency. This is because your tooth can break easily due to the lack of reinforcement that the dental filling provides. Moreover, your tooth’s nerves may even become exposed. This can lead to several other dental problems requiring immediate care.
7. Food Item / Object Lodges Between Your Teeth
You should immediately see your Charlotte, NC, dentist if a piece of food or an object gets lodged between your teeth, since no brushing or flossing can help you remove it. Failure to remove the object can lead to gum irritation, tooth decay, gum disease, dental infection, or crooked teeth (as it can shift your teeth).
8. Your Dental Crown Falls Off or Breaks
You need to see an emergency dentist if your dental crown breaks or completely falls off. When your crown falls off or breaks, your tooth will be exposed and become more prone to infection and damage. Visiting your dentist for emergency dental care and replacing your crown can help you avoid the need for a root canal, dental extraction, and other dental procedures to preserve your oral health.
How to Prevent Dental Emergencies
Follow the tips below to prevent dental emergencies:
- Practice daily dental hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth regularly (preferably after meals) to remove food particles and plaque bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay.
- Protect your teeth with mouthguards, especially if you participate in sports.
- Watch what you eat. Avoid sugary food and drinks, sticky meals, and hard, crunchy foods that require excessive force to chew as they are bad for your teeth.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants.
- Visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and cleaning. This will help eliminate plaque, catch any dental issues early, and resolve them before they worsen or require extensive and expensive dental work.
- Avoid using your teeth as a tool.
- Eat foods rich in phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, and D. These vitamins and minerals can help to promote gum health, strengthen and stabilize the teeth, and reduce the risk of gum disease.
We Provide Emergency Dental Service in the University City, Charlotte Area
Although sticking to good oral hygiene practices can help prevent some dental problems, a dental emergency can happen even when you least expect it. That’s why we offer the best and most affordable emergency dental services in the University City, Charlotte area to address any dental issues you may have to alleviate your pain.
Are you dealing with any of the symptoms discussed above? Remember, when dealing with a dental emergency, time is of the essence to stop the situation from worsening. Call (704) 494-4050 or schedule an appointment with us now so we can see you promptly.