Dental emergencies come in many forms. You may be experiencing a severe toothache caused by deep decay, a dislodged tooth due to an injury, or pain and swelling from an abscess. Whatever the reason, your dental emergency can stop you in your tracks and keep you from your normal daily activities.
Calling the dentist right away is vital to the outcome of your condition. The following recommendations can help you take appropriate action and ensure the best results from treatment.
Types of Dental Emergencies and Treatment Options
Extreme Tooth Pain without Injury:
If you have pain that generates from your tooth or jaw and spreads to your face, ear, or neck, you may have a cavity that has invaded the inner portion of the tooth. This is the pulp and where the root houses the nerves of teeth. Infection almost always accompanies deep decay and the only two treatments available are root canal therapy and extraction.
Without treatment, your condition is unlikely to improve and the longer you wait to receive treatment, the more you risk complications occurring. Root canal therapy is generally the preferred approach as it preserves the tooth and root which prevents other teeth from shifting and jawbone loss due to the absence of the tooth. Extraction can be a healthy alternative if a dental implant is placed in the jawbone soon after the extraction.
Tooth Dislodgment or Intrusion:
In the case of an injury, your tooth may be knocked out or pushed far into the gum.
In most cases of a tooth that is dislodged (avulsed), the remedy is a fixed bridge or dental implant-supported crown. While there are cases of teeth being saved with replantation into its socket, many prerequisites must be met. The tooth must be available and intact, kept clean, with undamaged ligaments attached, and presented by the patient to the dentist within a very small window of time. If one or more of your teeth become dislodged, collect the tooth, rinse gently, and place in a cup of milk, salt water, or (for adults) back into its socket, making sure it’s facing the right way. Use cotton or a soft cloth over the tooth as you bite down gently. Head to the dentist’s office immediately. If it’s after hours call them to see if they can meet at the office or refer you to an emergency dentist.
If your tooth has experienced intrusion (been pushed deep into your gum or jaw) rinse your mouth with salt water to clean the area. Call the dentist and advise them of the situation. You will be scheduled to come in as soon as possible, the same day or next morning if after hours. These teeth can be treated and have a higher rate of successful replantation or repositioning than avulsed teeth, although there are many times the tooth cannot be saved. In that case, the same solutions as a dislodged tooth can restore the soon to be extracted tooth.
There are two types of abscesses. They can both grow quickly and can do damage to surrounding structures. Prompt attention is indicated.
A gum abscess (periodontal abscess) is caused by an infection in the space between the tooth and gum. This may occur if food gets trapped between the gum and tooth. Severe gum disease can also cause abscesses due to bacteria building up under the gum and in the bone.
A tooth-related abscess (periapical abscess) happens inside the tooth. This occurs when the tooth's nerve is dead or dying. These abscesses show up at the tip of the tooth's root. Then it spreads to the surrounding bone.
Left untreated, the surrounding bone and teeth become threatened. Tooth loss and bone loss are the end result of an unchecked dental abscess. With proper treatment, including thoroughly clearing away bacteria and taking antibiotics to treat infection, your tooth may be saved. However, chronic abscesses due to periodontal disease typically lead to tooth loss.
ART Dentistry – For All Your Dental Needs
It’s important to have an established dental care provider. This is for your total oral health and is especially important when you have an emergency. Dr. Todd Martin provides comprehensive gentle dentistry in Charlotte, NC and can treat your emergency. To learn more or to schedule an appointment call our friendly Dental office today.