When it comes to our teeth, prevention is always better than a cure. But in some cases, our oral health is in poor condition and emergency dental care is necessary for a proper recovery. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to figure out if your toothaches are normal or a sign of underlying issues. Many dental conditions can wait for treatment until your regularly scheduled appointment but others need medical attention immediately. It’s important to identify emergency conditions as soon as possible to minimize their impact on your dental health. In this guide, we’ll look at six signs you need emergency dental care so next time you have a serious issue with oral health, you’ll know when to get help.
1. You Have Loose Teeth
Loose teeth are not normal for healthy adults. Under no circumstances should healthy, flourishing teeth wiggle or move in their sockets. Once you lose your baby teeth, your permanent replacements are not designed to fall out. They will not wiggly unless a serious condition is present, requiring immediate dental attention. Dozens of causes can lead to loose teeth. A tooth injury can case wiggling, as can gum damage or localized infection. Depending on the cause of your loose teeth, your dentist will use effective treatments to preserve your tooth and repair the damage if possible – if not, he or she can pull it and fit you with a replacement. Going to a dentist to examine a loose tooth can feel scary but the localized infection that follows can be scary. It can lead to an abscess and even death, in severe cases. Dental infections are painful and the sooner you treat them, the less likely you are to experience severe residual effects.
2. Your Gums are Bleeding and Aching
No – your gums are not supposed to bleed. They’re never supposed to and if they are, you may have gum disease (bleeding gums are also the result of brushing with too much pressure). If your gums are aching, it’s another tell-tale symptom you need emergency dental care. Gum bleeding alongside pain and aching are clear signs something is wrong. You may have gingivitis, a serious periodontal disease. When your gums bleed once or twice, it doesn’t necessarily warrant emergency care. Ongoing, persistent bleeding and pain do require immediate attention and it’s important you visit your doctor as soon as possible to prevent further damage or gum recession.
3. You Have an Abscess
An abscess is one of the most dangerous oral conditions you can develop. Abscesses are arguably the greatest dental emergency and require treatment immediately to prevent severe complications. We can’t stress this enough – please see a dentist if you have an abscess. If you don’t treat it, the infection can travel through your body and result in serious conditions like strokes – in extreme cases, they can be fatal. Abscesses are commonly the result of untreated cavities. You can prevent them by managing your oral health and preventing tooth decay. You’ll likely know if you have an abscess. They’re extremely painful and they aren’t shy about presenting themselves. Your symptoms will mimic most other oral infections (swelling, fever, pain, and sensitivity), but are generally more intense. If you suspect you have an abscess, please speak with a dentist as soon as possible.
4. Your Canker Sores Don’t Heal
Canker sores are small ulcers in your mouth. They can develop for many reasons and are generally harmless. While the occasional canker sore is normal, it should go away on its own in a two weeks or less. If it doesn’t, it could become infected or signify a more important underlying condition.
5. Your Headaches Are Constant
No one likes having a headache. If you have a severe dental condition, there’s a good chance it will cause head pain. If you have unexplained headaches regularly, talk to your dentist. You may have a tooth infection or increased sensitivity, contributing to the pain.
6. You Taste Metal
If you’ve ever had a metal filling, tasting something metallic could be a sign your filling is cracked or broke. When your fillings crack, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. If you don’t see a dentist about a cracked filling, you could get an infection and further damage your tooth.