Even with regular dental cleanings, it’s normal to experience occasional problems with your teeth or gums. Problems such as increased sensitivity or soreness due to grinding are not emergencies; these issues can be addressed and treated during regular business hours. However, some problems may appear harmless at first and then escalate into real dental emergencies. If you experience any of the following problems, take caution as they can grow into dental emergencies.
Your tooth is loose
While it’s perfectly acceptable and even celebrated for a young child to discover a loose tooth, an adult tooth should never wiggle. Even if you do not experience any pain, a loose adult tooth can be a serious indication of an infection or injury. If the loose tooth is present with bleeding gums, advanced gum disease may be the culprit. In either the case of the infection or gum disease, it is important to see your dentist immediately as untreated gum disease can negatively affect heart health.
Your jaw is swollen
Swelling of the body can happen for many reasons. From eating too much salt or sitting for prolonged periods of time, swelling is normal and not necessarily an emergency. During cold and flu season, your lymph nodes may swell a bit as your body fights off the germs. However, if you ever experience a swollen jaw and intense pain, you’re no longer just dealing with a problem; it’s now a dental emergency. This may be the sign of a growing infection that needs medical attention.
Your toothache is suddenly numb
Between commuting, working, and traveling, it’s not always convenient to get to the dentist’s office. Many people try to “wait out” small problems or treat them at home with alternative methods. However, if your seemingly harmless toothache has suddenly turned numb, you need to head to the dentist ASAP. If an abscess grows too close to a nerve, it is possible that the area loses all sensation. While you may feel better because the pain is gone, the problem has grown bigger.
Your wound isn’t healing
Who hasn’t poked the roof of their mouth with a fork or a pointy tortilla chip? While it may hurt, the mouth does heal rather quickly. However, if your oral wound doesn’t heal, it can quickly escalate from a mere annoyance to an emergency if an infection sets in. If you develop a fever or the wound becomes discolored, seek dental treatment immediately.
You have an abscess
If you see a small dot on your gums, note that it may be the start of an abscess, an infection around the root or on the gum. As the abscess grows, you’re likely to experience more pain and swelling. See your dentist immediately as abscesses are serious infections that can quickly spread to other parts of the body. While waiting to see the dentist, rinse with a salt water rinse to minimize any pain.
If you suspect that a dental problem is quickly turning into an emergency, call our office at 202-296-7714.