What is Truly a Dental Emergency?

What is Truly a Dental Emergency?

It seems there’s one in every family. The minimizer. You know who I’m talking about. These stoic souls who say things like “it’s just a scratch” when you’re applying direct pressure to a serious wound. Or “it’s just a little toothache” when you can see pain etched deeply in the person’s eyes and grimace. Maybe that person is you. Whomever your family minimizer is, this handy guide can help you identify what is truly a dental emergency. And if it is, you need to call us and get in for some help!

A Loose or Missing Tooth

A loose or knocked-out tooth is usually the result from an injury in adults. Likewise, in children. Both are emergencies. If your tooth is knocked out, clean the tooth carefully with milk or water by holding the tooth by the crown (never by the root). Carefully place the tooth back and hold it in place with a rolled-up piece of gauze. A cold compress will help with swelling. If you can’t place the tooth back in its socket, place it between your cheek and gum until you get to the dentist. Contact us immediately.

A Severe Toothache

A severe toothache is one symptom that tells you something is wrong with your tooth. If the severity of the pain affects your ability to function normally, call us.

Tooth pain may be caused by a cavity. Cavities generally get more painful when heat or cold hit them. Chewing also causes pain.

Abscesses are another cause of severe tooth pain. An abscess is when a pocket of infection has developed around the tooth or at its root structure. Emedicinehealth.com notes other symptoms that may accompany an abscess are:

  • Fever
  • Swollen gum
  • Pus and/or fluid present in the area of the painful tooth
  • Redness or swelling of your gum, cheek, or face near the tooth

Severe tooth pain combined with these signs of infection need to be addressed by one of our expert dentists ASAP.

A Lost Filling or Crown

Losing a filling or crown can be extremely painful, because the underlying tooth will be sensitive to temperature. Pain is your emergency marker. If you lose a filling or crown, you can dab the sensitive area with oil of cloves. You may also wish to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol. Contact us right away to get either a filling or crown replaced. You don’t want to be in pain.

An Impacted Tooth

An impacted tooth is a tooth that tries to break through the gum but can’t quite make it. Wisdom teeth and canines are the most common culprits for this problem. A child might get an impacted tooth if a baby tooth fails to fall out when it should or if a permanent tooth erupts in the wrong place. This crowds other teeth and can harm the roots of healthy teeth.

If biting and chewing become difficult, or swollen gums and pain accompany chewing, it’s time to see a dentist. Usually impacted teeth don’t arrive all at once, so regular dental care with X-rays will likely detect any potential teeth that could become impacted. But when it happens, it’s painful, and you need help. Call us.

A Cracked, Chipped or Broken Tooth

Whether it happened while binge-watching GOT with a bowl of popcorn or catching an elbow in a pick-up game of basketball, a cracked, chipped or broken tooth needs treatment ASAP. If your tooth damage is the result of a head injury, you should visit the emergency room first.

Cracked Tooth: your tooth may be sensitive and it is weakened. Although you may not need to come in immediately if you’re not in serious pain, call us to make an appointment to get it assessed and fixed. Be careful about chewing on this side or hot or cold liquids.

Chipped or Broken Tooth: It helps to rinse your mouth out with warm salt water. If there is bleeding, apply a rolled-up piece of gauze to tooth and gently bite down until bleeding stops. You may wish to take an over-the-counter pain reliever. A small chip is probably not going to cause you much pain, but it needs to be fixed to keep the tooth strong and prevent decay. A broken tooth may be jagged and sharp. Either can be painful. Call us ASAP.

Don’t Wait Until You’re in Serious Pain

It’s not just minimizers who too often ignore tooth sensitivity, hoping it will go away. We get it, you have busy lives. But tooth sensitivity can result from a variety of factors including worn tooth enamel and exposed tooth roots. Other causes include undetected cavities, cracks, chips, a worn filling, or gum disease.

If you have sensitivity, although it may not constitute an emergency, it is a red flag. Tooth sensitivity is your body’s way of asking you to make a dental appointment. And at Albuquerque’s Davis, Gribble, and Hollowwaa, we’re here to prevent dental emergencies when we can and treat dental emergencies when they disrupt your life.

Whether you are currently one of our patients or not, we’re here to help you in an emergency. Call us at 505-898-1976.

Author Info

Dr. Connor Hollowwa

Dr. Connor Hollowwa is an Albuquerque native. He graduated from the Albuquerque Academy and went on to receive a BA from Rice University. His Doctorate of Dental Surgery is from Creighton University School of Dentistry. Before joining private practice he practiced at the state-of-the-art Isleta Health Center’s Dental Clinic, providing modern dental care for the members of the Pueblo of Isleta. In his free time he enjoys playing the piano, fly-fishing, golfing, and skiing.