Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Recognizing early signs of a dental emergency can prevent your risk of severe dental complications as well as increased financial cost.
Patients often wonder if the pain or discomfort they are experiencing is an emergency and should book an appointment with their dentist. Recognizing the early signs of a dental emergency will decrease your risk of severe complications and morbidity.
The three most common dental emergencies to look out for:
Severe / Constant Toothache A severe toothache that lasts for more than three days and worsens over time may be subject to a serious dental problem. A toothache may be a sign of severe tooth decay, a cracked tooth, or an infection. If the case, often patients will describe the pain as a throbbing, heart-beat like pain that gets worse when they lie down at night or even if they bite soft food.
With routine dental exams and cleanings, your dentist can catch these problems early on to avoid severe pain and risk of an infection by performing a root canal treatment and allowing you to keep your tooth.
Broken Tooth A chipped or broken tooth left untreated can lead to more extensive dental treatment. Chipped teeth aren’t simply an aesthetic concern, they can be associated with underlying habits such as grinding (bruxism), clenching, or even nail biting. Early detection of these habits and prevention is key to limit long lasting negative effects. Regular dental visits will allow your dentist to detect these conditions and prevent subsequent consequences.
Sports accidents are the most common reason of front teeth fracture. A sports guard is recommended especially if playing contact sports such as hockey, boxing, etc. In most traumatic cases, the tooth can be saved. If your entire tooth is knocked out, it can actually be saved if you visit a dentist within approximately an hour (preferably within the first 30 minutes). Ideally, try to place the tooth back in your socket. If you can’t, keep the tooth moist, either in your mouth next to your cheek or in milk to preserve to the tooth vitality.
Routine dental exams and follow ups are crucial to avoid complications such as root canal treatment, abscess, infection or even premature tooth loss. In cases where your dentist is unable to save your tooth, we recommend to replace as soon as possible to avoid the remaining teeth from shifting, losing bone or even causing gum recession.
Dental Abscess or Swelling A dental abscess is a severe infection often associated with localized swelling and pus. If left untreated, the infection can damage the surrounding teeth and soft tissue, even spread throughout the different layers of your facial muscles and cause airway obstruction. Emergency treatment can help prevent the spread and contain the infection. Your dentist may prescribe you antibiotics to calm the infection prior to further dental treatment.