The coronavirus is something we at Green Dentistry are taking seriously. We’re abiding by guidelines set forth for COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that suggest dental professionals suspend routine dental health care and only provide treatment to patients who are experiencing a dental emergency.
How do you know what constitutes a dental emergency? What are some signs you need emergency dental care? Here’s what you should know.
You Have a Severe, Intolerable Toothache
Often, a toothache is caused by something simple, such as biting into something very cold or hard. The discomfort is usually not severe and goes away within a day or two. However, some toothaches can be caused by underlying disease, such as decay, infection, or a fracture. Toothaches that have a serious cause, like an abscess (a cyst-like infection at the root of a tooth) or an exposed nerve, need to be treated immediately.
Contact your dentist right away if you have:
- A toothache lasting longer than 1-2 days
- Pain that is severe or will not subside with over-the-counter remedies
- A toothache accompanied by a headache or fever
- Swelling of the gums around the affected tooth
- Pale-colored drainage from the affected tooth
You Have Jaw Swelling or Immobility
If you have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), you’re likely experiencing jaw pain, teeth grinding, headaches, and other uncomfortable symptoms. TMJ results in bruxism, or the grinding of your teeth, usually at night. In rare cases, TMJ can cause complications that require urgent dental care, such as swelling or sudden immobility of the jaw.
You Suspect You May Have a Dental Abscess
An abscessed tooth is often a very painful condition caused by the growth of an “infection-pocket” at the root of a tooth, either on the side or at the tip. The most common cause of a dental abscess is untreated dental decay, however, injury may also be a cause.
A root canal may need to be performed to drain the abscess and save the tooth, and you may need to take oral antibiotics to ensure that the bacteria causing the infection are entirely eradicated. An abscessed tooth that is left untreated can result in severe pain and further complications. This makes it critical that you obtain emergency dental services as soon as possible if you think you may have an abscess.
You may have an abscessed tooth if you have:
- A persistent, severe toothache that is not relieved by over-the-counter treatment and/or radiates pain to the jaw, ear, or neck
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and/or the pressure of chewing
- Difficulty swallowing and in rare cases, difficulty breathing
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes in your neck, usually on the side of the painful tooth
- Swelling of your cheek or face on one side
- A toothache accompanied by a fever
You Have a Broken Tooth
A broken tooth may also be cause for an emergency dental appointment. A simple chip may only be a cosmetic concern if the nerve isn’t exposed, however, a tooth that has broken and exposes the nerve or the pulp needs to be treated immediately.
This condition is usually very painful and is noticeable immediately. You may be extremely sensitive to heat and cold in the area of the broken tooth, and depending on how much nerve is exposed, even exposing the tooth to air could cause discomfort.
You Experienced a Dental Injury
Any dental injury should be examined by a licensed dentist, even if you’ve been to the emergency room. ERs aren’t always the most well-equipped to handle specific types of emergencies; for example, dental and eye injuries almost always require treatment by an ophthalmologist or dental surgeon.
If you experienced any kind of injury to your mouth, teeth, or gums, it’s important to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage to delicate tissue, nerves, and permanent teeth.
Are you looking for an emergency dentist in the Bay Area? We’ve got you covered. Green Dentistry in San Francisco offers emergency dental care from a holistic and whole-body health perspective.
If you think you may have a dental emergency, contact us at (415) 433-0119 to discuss your condition and schedule your appointment to be seen by our on-call dentist.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.