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Posted on: June 15, 2020
When to Seek Help for a Dental Emergency in Indiana
What Is Considered a Dental Emergency?
For many oral health professionals, a true dental emergency must meet very specific criteria. An injury that affects the soft tissues of the mouth, such as a cut or laceration to the tongue, lips, or cheeks is considered an emergency. Pain that’s severe enough to impact your everyday activities and isn’t relieved by taking pain medications purchased over-the-counter should also be treated by an emergency dentist.
Immediate treatment is also needed for these signs of a dental emergency in Indiana:
- Fever or chills associated with mouth pain
- Loose, cracked, or chipped teeth
- A knocked-out-tooth
- A mouth injury with excessive bleeding
While the following examples are not true emergency situations, they should still be seen by a dentist who provides same-day walk-in dental services:
- Bleeding gums while brushing and flossing
- Damage to a dental bridge
- Sudden tooth sensitivity
- Losing a porcelain veneer, crown, or filling
7 Signs of a Dental Emergency in Indiana
Unsure if what you’re experiencing requires emergency treatment? Take a look at seven of the most common urgent problems that can affect your oral health:
1. Soft-tissue injuries: Any injury affecting the soft tissues of the mouth, such as the gums, tongue, cheeks, and lips, can result in bleeding that can be difficult to control at home, causing an emergency situation. See your dentist right away so the existing wound can be treated and the health of the surrounding teeth can be assessed.
2. A fractured jaw: If not treated soon after the injury occurs, a fractured jaw can cause permanent alignment issues and damage to the surrounding teeth. Call our office right away if you suspect a fractured jaw.
3. A knocked-out-tooth: According to the American Association of Endodontists, it’s possible for your dentist to preserve your tooth if you act quickly. The highest chances of success occur when you receive treatment within an hour of the incident that knocked out the tooth. You can also use an emergency tooth-preservation product that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval and get to your dentist as soon as possible.
4. Dry socket pain and infection after extraction: Patients can develop a dry socket after a tooth extraction when a blood clot doesn’t form properly in the empty space, exposing the vulnerable nerves and bone underneath. It’s a common condition that affects between 2% to 5% of people who have had a tooth removed, and it can cause excruciating pain that’s not relieved by taking over-the-counter medications. If you experience pain that radiates to your ear and neck, dizziness, a foul mouth odor, or headache, you might have an infection that requires immediate treatment from a dentist.
5. Facial swelling and pain: Swelling and pain affecting your jaw and mouth can be caused by many different conditions that require emergency attention, such as an abscess, a fracture, TMJ dislocation, inflammation, or an allergic reaction.
6. A fractured or dislodged filling: Since broken fillings can have jagged edges that could cause injury to the soft tissues of the mouth, it’s important to receive treatment from a dentist to restore the affected tooth and prevent further injury.
7. Excessive bleeding that does not stop: If you’ve experienced injury or trauma to the face and mouth that causes blood loss that can’t be stopped quickly at home, call our office immediately for emergency treatment.
Why Is a Tooth Abscess Considered an Emergency?
An abscessed tooth is a very serious bacterial infection that’s caused by tooth decay, a cracked tooth, or advanced periodontal disease. These problems allow bacteria to enter the root of a tooth or the gum tissue. A pus pocket forms near the tooth root, which can quickly develop into a life-threatening infection near the surrounding soft tissues, teeth, and jawbone.
Although a tooth abscess can be successfully treated when diagnosed and treated early, there are some life-threatening complications that can develop when treatment is delayed. The first of these is sepsis, a life-threatening condition that can cause organ failure or even death. The mortality rate can increase to 40% if mediastinitis develops, a dangerous complication that causes irritation and swelling near the lungs.
Take a look at a few of the most noticeable signs of a tooth abscess:
- Swelling in the face or cheek
- Throbbing tooth pain
- Pain that spreads to jaw, neck, or ear
- Pain when chewing or biting
It’s important to receive emergency dental services if you suddenly develop any of these symptoms. Depending on the severity of the infection, there are many treatments for a tooth abscess. This includes draining the pocket of pus, taking antibiotics to treat the existing infection, and performing a root canal to save the affected tooth. In some cases, the tooth will be extracted if it’s extensively damaged.
Is a Chipped Tooth an Emergency?
Despite the hard minerals that comprise tooth enamel, it’s susceptible to damage from a variety of activities, such as biting down on something hard, sustaining a blow to the face, or even everyday wear and tear. Remaining calm when you crack or chip a tooth can help you make good decisions when deciding on the next steps to take during this emergency. You should quickly rinse out your mouth with warm water to clean the area. It’s also just as important to call our office to learn what you should do next and schedule an appointment.
If you’re not in pain and the affected tooth isn’t bleeding, it’s most likely not an emergency situation, and it’s okay to wait a few days until your scheduled appointment. This is typically the case for minor chips or cracks that only affect the enamel. In the meantime, you should continue to keep your mouth clean and use a cold compress to reduce any possible swelling. If you’re in a lot of pain or the affected area is bleeding, we encourage you to seek urgent treatment from a dentist.
Besides not using your teeth to open packages and avoiding biting into hard candy or chewing ice, it’s possible to avoid accidents that lead to an emergency by wearing a mouthguard if you regularly play high-impact sports or frequently grind your teeth. Mouthguards are comfortable and can prevent traumatic injuries to the mouth. Your dentist can design a custom-made mouthguard to fit the unique shape of your mouth.
Many common problems, such as gum disease and tooth decay, can be prevented with routine visits to your dentist and daily brushing and flossing. The same is true for a dental emergency since your dentist can detect problems early before they become an urgent issue. However, in the event that you experience a dental emergency in Indiana, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our emergency services can provide the relief you need and restore the health of your mouth.