Posted on: June 15, 2020
When to Seek Help for a Dental Emergency in Collingswood
If you experience a stressful dental emergency in Collingswood, it can feel like everything else in life suddenly stops while you figure out the right course of action. Dental crises are inconvenient at best, frightening at worst and more common than you think.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that unplanned emergency oral care accounts for more than 34 million school hours lost each year and more than $45 billion in productivity losses. Learn more about dental emergencies so you’re prepared to act with confidence should you or a loved one have a mishap.
What Is Considered a Dental Emergency?
Whether you seek immediate care depends on a variety of factors, including your pain tolerance and willingness to endure discomfort until your dentist can see you.
Oral health professionals agree that severe pain that interferes with sleep and is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medication requires immediate treatment by an emergency dentist. A dull, throbbing ache around the mouth and jaw that lasts for days may indicate a serious oral infection or abscessed tooth.
Cavities are another source of debilitating pain. The CDC states 26% of adults and 66% of adolescents in the United States have untreated tooth decay, calling it “one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood.”
Any injury to the inside of the mouth, such as a laceration, puncture wound or tear to the lips, cheeks or tongue, is considered a dental emergency.
Other reasons to seek urgent services include:
- Swollen throat or airway that interferes with breathing
- Fever and chills associated with mouth pain
- Chipped, cracked or loose tooth
- Knocked-out tooth
- Gum injury with heavy bleeding
While not always considered an emergency if the person is not in pain, other common oral occurrences can be inconvenient or worrying. The following examples often benefit from same-day walk-in dental services:
- Losing a porcelain veneer from a top front tooth while eating
- Having a crown or filling pop out
- Damaging your dental bridge
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth
Sudden sensitivity to temperature when eating and drinking
7 Signs You Need Care for a Dental Emergency in Collingswood
If you or a loved one experiences any of the following conditions, seek out immediate emergency services.
1. A knocked-out tooth: As distressing as losing a tooth is, your dentist may be able to reinsert it if you act quickly within the first hour, according to the American Association of Endodontists. If you participate in high-risk activities or play impact sports, your dentist may suggest keeping on hand an emergency tooth-preservation kit that features the ADA seal of approval.
2. A fractured or dislodged filling: If a broken filling leaves jagged, sharp edges on your tooth, you can easily injure your tongue or the side of your cheek. You also need to act quickly to protect the exposed tooth from further damage.
3. Excessive bleeding that does not stop: A trauma to the face or hemorrhaging that occurs after an extraction requires urgent care if you can’t stop the bleeding at home.
4. Injury to the gums: If you sustain a deep gouge or cut to the gums, see your dental professional right away to treat the wound and ensure that the surrounding teeth aren’t affected.
5. Facial swelling: Many conditions can cause internal and external swelling around the face, jaws and neck. These include TMJ dislocation, an allergic reaction, a fracture, an infection and inflammation. All require immediate attention.
6. Dry socket pain and infection after extraction: Although only 2–5% of patients develop a dry socket following a tooth extraction, according to WebMD, the pain can be intense enough to require something stronger than over-the-counter medications. If a blood clot doesn’t form in the socket where a tooth was pulled, the bone and nerve become exposed to air, food and fluid. Severe pain that radiates to the ear and neck, headache, dizziness and a foul odor all can indicate that an infection is present.
7. A fractured jaw: Seek immediate care for a serious jaw injury to confirm that the teeth are not damaged and to prevent permanent misalignment.
Why You Should Never Delay Treatment for a Tooth Abscess
Dental abscesses, or periapical infections, can be challenging to manage and, if not handled correctly, life-threatening. The abscess can cause serious damage to gum tissue, bone and teeth in the area of the infection.
While the prognosis for an abscess is generally good, if left untreated, the mortality rate can increase to 40% if patients develop mediastinitis (swelling and irritation of the chest area between the lungs) from the infection. The untreated infection can also spread through the sinuses into the brain or move to bone marrow or the bloodstream, causing sepsis and affecting major organs.
Common causes of dental infections include:
- Cavities related to poor dental hygiene
- Trauma, such as a cracked or fractured tooth
- Failed root canal treatment
- Partially erupted wisdom tooth
These bacterial infections are usually extremely painful. A pocket of pus typically forms around the tooth’s root. It’s important to seek emergency dental care immediately to drain the abscess, start a course of antibiotics to clear the infection and determine if the tooth can be saved with a root canal or if it requires extraction.
Steps to Take If You Crack a Tooth
Maybe you bit down too hard on a piece of ice or hard candy, or perhaps you fell face-first onto the pavement while rollerblading. If you suddenly find yourself with a chipped or broken tooth, call your dentist for immediate-care advice and to schedule an appointment.
If the broken tooth was the result of a sports-related accident or bruxism (teeth grinding), consider using a mouth guard or mouth protector. While mouth guards should always be worn when you’re playing contact sports, such as football, hockey and basketball, they’re also the best way to prevent traumatic mouth injuries while engaging in any kind of physical activity.
A custom-fitted mouthguard provided by your dentist can significantly reduce the risk of tooth damage during falls or collisions. You can also buy a stock (non-customized) or boil-and-bite mouth guard, but look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance on the package. The seal ensures that the product is safe when used as directed.
Many problems can easily be avoided by having regularly scheduled checkups with your dentist. Spotting trouble in the early stages when it’s still a minor issue and easily treatable can help reduce your chances of developing a more serious difficulty.
When you put your dental emergency in Collingswood into the compassionate and skilled hands of a Dental Care Alliance affiliated practice, you can be sure you’re working with a professional healthcare team that consistently meets the highest standards of patient care and ethics. For gentle and affordable oral care near Collingswood, call us today or make an appointment online. We look forward to serving you.