Urgent Dental Care and Emergencies

Published by Dr. Sean Landgraf

Even when following dentists’ instructions, many individuals will experience some form of a dental emergency due to pain or broken teeth. Most emergencies can be categorized into 3 main categories: pain, swelling, and broken teeth. The truth is that it is possible to have all three, but I will focus on each individually to give some causes. It should be stated that regardless of the cause, it is best to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Pain – The main sources of dental pain are from the nerve inside a tooth becoming irritated or dying and causing infection around a tooth. The bacterial infection builds up pressure and can cause a throbbing pain. To diagnose which is the case, a dental x-ray and clinical exam are needed. A dentist can determine if the nerve can be saved or if it is damaged and needs to be removed from the tooth. When the pain is caused from infection outside the tooth, it is important to determine what caused the infection. It may necessary to clean the inside pulp chamber of the tooth or even remove the tooth. It is also possible antibiotics will be needed.

Swelling – Swelling can go along with pain, but not always. It is often a sign of infection that is not isolated to the area right by the tooth. Again, it will be important for a dentist to get an x-ray and determine the source of the infection. It is likely the infection will need a procedure to remove the source of the infection as well as antibiotics to clear the infection around the tooth. ***If the swelling gets severe enough to start blocking your breathing airway, you must go to an emergency room immediately.***  This is the one case where it is better to skip the dentist and go straight to a hospital. They are better equipped for breathing complications.

Broken Teeth – The last common emergency is a broken tooth. Sometimes a broken tooth may go along with pain and swelling, but not always. Even if the tooth does not hurt, it still needs to be examined by a dentist. Teeth break from dental decay weakening them or from trauma due to activity and dysfunctional bites. If they are left untreated, the broken teeth will lead to pain and swelling. It is also important to have the tooth examined since it is easier to save broken teeth when they first fracture. In the case where the tooth and root come completely out, it is important to keep the tooth clean to see if a dentist can re-implant the tooth.

When facing any dental emergency, it is best to see a dentist as soon as possible. We do our best to work patients into one of our offices to ensure quick treatment. In the event the dental office is closed, you can seek out a dental urgent care. Some may be open with evening hours. It is also possible to seek a traditional urgent care, but you will likely only receive pain management care since they are not trained on dental. Give us a call if you have any questions or we can help you with your emergency!

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