Teeth don't wait around for your regular dental visit to act up. When a dental problem comes up in between your regularly scheduled checkups, you need to determine whether it can wait for an opening in the dentist's calendar or if you require emergency dental services.
By understanding exactly what falls under the label of a dental emergency, you get the care you need without spending money on an emergency appointment if you don't need to.
Teeth can break for many reasons, such as an inherent weakness in the tooth, an accident, or a food-related injury. If you feel a size-able chunk come off of one or more teeth, you need to get that addressed as soon as possible. Your nerves may be exposed to the air, causing pain and sensitivity. Worse, bacteria has a direct access point to the tooth's pulp, which can accelerate decay.
Knocked Out Tooth
You may end up with a tooth knocked completely out of the socket if you take a hard hit to your face or jaw. The tooth won't survive long outside your mouth, so you need to act quickly to get it put back in place. Otherwise, you may end up losing the tooth entirely and needing an implant or a bridge to account for the loss.
An abscess is an infected area that typically appears close to the tooth that's causing the problem. Pus and bacteria build up in this pocket and often cause significant pain. If you don't address this infection, it could move from your tooth into other parts of your body. Since this condition can potentially be fatal, you need to get to a dentist quickly.
If your tooth starts hurting suddenly and you're unable to manage it with over-the-counter painkillers or a cold compress, you may be suffering from a break or infection that you can't see. A dentist can perform diagnostic testing and determine exactly what's going on inside your mouth.
Wounds Inside the Mouth
An injury inside the mouth may seem like something you should go to the emergency room for, but you may be better off finding a dental clinic that has emergency dentist services.
Your gums and teeth may be damaged by the same situation that caused the lacerations in your mouth, and the ER often doesn't have a dental specialist available. If your gums, jawbone, or teeth are involved with the wound, the attentions of the dentist may be the better option.
Sudden and Severe Swelling That Doesn't Go Away
One symptom of tooth or gum problems is sudden and persistent swelling. Anti-inflammatory medicine or a cold compress may help ease immediate pain, but if you don't see any improvement, you need to get it checked out.
Ultimately, if you're worried about your teeth, gums, jaw or other parts of your mouth, then an emergency dentist is the best health care provider to help identify the issue and tell you the next steps. Start with your regular dentist office to see if it has emergency availability or after-hours services.
If your regular dentist can't help you, you can reach out to dentists who specialize in 24-hour and emergency dental care. Your overall well-being and your oral health are closely tied together, so it's important to treat these problems with the seriousness they deserve.