Tips to Recognize a Dental Emergency

A dental emergency involves an injury to the gums or teeth. This can be serious as you risk permanent damage and complications if you ignore it. These tips will help you know if it’s an emergency or not. If it’s an emergency, call our dentist immediately.

Pain Control

If you have a painful tooth, we know you want help quickly. Pain is an emergency.

Root Canal Pain

If you are in severe throbbing pain, you may need a root canal treatment (RCT). This is an emergency.

A root canal involves removing a tooth’s nerve and pulp. This is necessary when the tooth is so severely decayed that the nerve has begun to die. Very often, this is caused by trauma to the tooth. However, this tooth damage can also happen for unknown reasons.

This damage to the tooth and nerve can cause severe pain. Please be assured that the RCT procedure will relieve your pain. During the procedure, the dentist removes the nerve that is causing your pain, and restores your tooth back to normal function.

If you don’t seek treatment, you risk developing an infection in the tissues surrounding the tooth – and you may develop a painful abscess. Here’s the good news: Root canal treatment is highly successful. When you get a root canal, you will end the pain you feel right now.

Abscessed Tooth Pain

An abscessed tooth can cause severe pain that is localized to a single tooth, Biting makes the pain worse. You may have swelling and fever. This may be an emergency.

An abscess is caused by an infected tooth. While the pain may not require immediate dental attention, it will benefit from over-the-counter painkiller medication. Even if the pain goes away, the abscess will persist as the tooth is infected. An abscess requires cleaning of the tooth (similar to a root canal) or tooth extraction.

Pain After Tooth Extraction

If you feel increasing pain after having a tooth extracted, you likely have an infection. This is an emergency. This is caused by a “dry socket” that occurs occasionally following an extraction. The pain starts 2 to 4 days later, becomes increasingly painful, causes an unpleasant taste, and there is tenderness.

Irrigating the infection with warm saline solution after dressing the socket will treat the infection. You will also benefit from pain-relieving medication and an antimicrobial medication.

Cracked or Broken Tooth

Teeth are very strong, but they can crack, break, or chip. This can happen when you bite on something hard, or if you’re hit in the mouth. Falling can also injure a tooth. Cavities can weaken a tooth, causing it to easily crack.

Cracked tooth

  • A cracked tooth may not hurt, but it may be very sensitive to hot and cold drinks/food. This is NOT an emergency. But you should see a dentist very soon as the crack could cause complications if it gets worse.
  • If your tooth hurts all the time, there may be a damaged nerve or blood vessel inside the tooth. This is an emergency. You will know if you have a cracked tooth if it does not hurt to bite on the tooth, but pain occurs when you release the bite.

Broken Tooth

  • If a large piece of tooth has broken off, this is NOT an emergency. However, you should see a dentist right away. The nerve inside the tooth may get damaged, which could require a root canal treatment.
  • Until you see the dentist, rinse your mouth with warm water, apply gauze or a tea bag to stop bleeding. Apply a cold pack to the cheek to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Cover the remaining tooth with temporary dental cement from the drugstore. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Broken Fillings

A filling can fall out or break at any time. You’re eating, and suddenly feel a strange object in your mouth. You’re not sure at first what it is, then realize it might be a filling. Call your dentist right away.

In some cases, a broken filling can cause pain, discomfort and a potential emergency. Call your dentist right away if you are in pain. This may be an emergency. Bacteria may have leaked into the filling, causing decay. Or the filing may simply need replacement. It’s best to get the tooth treated right away, as a chipped or lost filling can lead to root canal – and possibly loss of the tooth.

Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth needs special attention. This is an emergency. Don’t handle the tooth any more than necessary. Put the tooth back into the socket (but never force it). Bite on a wet tea bag or moist gauze to keep it in place. Don’t swallow the tooth.

In Richmond, you can rely on Best Dental to first get the dental pain under control, then address the problem causing your pain.