If you have a problem with a tooth, such as a dull toothache or slight swelling of the surrounding gums, you may be able to get by until you can schedule a regular dental appointment. However, there are a couple of instances that cannot wait and warrant emergency dental care.
1. Severe Damage to Your Tooth Caused by Sudden Trauma
If you have a tooth that is eroded or has a small crack in it caused by weakened enamel or an enlarged cavity, you can probably wait until you can see your regular dentist. However, any severe damage to the tooth that was caused by sudden trauma constitutes an emergency.
If your tooth has sustained a large crack after an impact or if your tooth was completely knocked out, immediate action must be taken to help restore or even save the tooth, especially if it was otherwise healthy before the trauma occurred. A cracked tooth may need to be sealed, or a dislodged tooth may be able to be reinserted if the roots are still intact and a dentist can perform the procedure shortly after it was knocked out.
2. Painful Swelling That Gets Progressively Worse
Another time when a visit to an emergency dentist is necessary is when you experience painful swelling that gets progressively worse. Swollen gums that are only painful while brushing or biting into hard foods is often a symptom of gum disease that can be treated during regular hours. However, swelling that has a sudden onset could be a symptom of an infection that needs immediate treatment.
When a pocket of infection forms against a tooth and inside the gums, the abscess that forms contains bacteria and pus that cannot readily drain because of its location. As the abscess grows, the pressure from the pocket of pus increases, causing extreme pain and possibly even a fever.
If the abscess is not treated as soon as possible and is allowed to continue growing, it could eventually break open. Not only would the infection spread to other areas of your gums, but it may be absorbed into your bloodstream and cause infection in other areas of your body.
If you find yourself in either of the above scenarios, you should not wait to have your tooth examined. Have someone take you to an emergency dental clinic as soon as possible so that the dental professional can examine and diagnose any issues and begin prompt treatment.