Few people look forward to going to the dentist, and no one plans for a dental emergency. When you wake up with a throbbing toothache, your first instinct may be to wait it out and hope the pain goes away, but that is not necessarily the best course of action.
While some dental problems can indeed wait until morning, others require timely intervention. Here are nine warning signs of a dental emergency, and nine reasons to call your dentist right away.
1. The pain is severe or unresponsive. Dental pain is one of the worst kinds of pain there is, and experiencing it often means raiding the medicine cabinet for over the counter remedies and specialized oral analgesics. If the pain does not respond or the severity does not subside, is it time to call the dentist.
2. You have lost a tooth. No matter what the cause, the sudden loss of a tooth is always a dental emergency, and you should contact your dentist right away. If you still have the tooth, placing it in a glass of milk could help preserve it. Even if you cannot find the tooth, the unexpected gap in your mouth could let bacteria into your body, making an already bad situation truly dangerous.
3. A tooth is loose or dangling. Even if your tooth is not gone, you may need a tooth extraction. Acting fast could save you the expense of a dental implant or the hassle of a partial denture.
4. You notice swelling. If you have swelling as well as tooth pain, you could be looking at a true emergency, and you should contact your dentist right away. The swelling could indicate an abscess, and that comes with real potential danger.
5. You are running a fever. A high temperature is a sign of infection, and something you should never ignore. If you have a fever as well as dental pain, you should call your dentist, or your doctor, right away.
6. There is blood. If your mouth, gums or teeth are bleeding. Blood loss is not normal no matter how hard you brush or floss, and you should always err on the side of caution.
7. Your tooth is cracked. If you crack a tooth while opening a bottle, playing sports or doing any other activity, you should call your dentist right away. Cracking the tooth will put you at risk of future tooth loss, but the opening could also provide an entry point for harmful bacteria, making your dental issue worse.
8. You experience severe pain and discomfort following oral surgery. While dental procedures are generally very safe, complications do arise, and experiencing pain or severe discomfort following any type of oral surgery could be signs of an emergency. At the very least, you should contact your dentist to relay the information.
9. You lose all feeling in the affected tooth. If you go from severe pain to no feeling at all, you may want to wait before thanking the dental gods. The sudden loss of feeling in a single tooth could be a sign of nerve damage, another type of dental emergency.
From annual or semi-annual checkups to regular cleanings, routine dental care should be an integral part of your health care regimen, but sometimes the care you need simply cannot wait. When you lose a tooth, experience swelling or have a fever, waiting until morning is probably not an option, and you should pick up the phone right away and call your dentist for further instructions.