A severe toothache can often make you feel as if you need an emergency dentist in Fort Walton Beach, but how do you know when it’s actually a true emergency? If you are experiencing severe pain that becomes chronic or perhaps even onset of sudden pain associated with other symptoms, it could possibly be a situation requiring immediate medical care. We here at the office of Steven C. Hewett, DDS in Champions Gate, FL have listed five scenarios that probably require emergency care.
Emergency Dentist: What Is Considered a Dental Emergency?
Relentless Chronic Pain
The human body has an amazing capacity to adapt to pain, especially chronic pain. Once we adapt to the pain, we begin to ignore it. This could end up being a terrible decision, however, as the chronic pain may be indicating something more serious, such as an infection or possibly even a gum disease. Putting off a quick visit to your dentist could put you at great risk for a future emergency dental visit.
Consequences of Putting Off a Dental Visit
Though most people don’t realize it, your oral health can have a big impact on the rest of your body. When an infection penetrates deep into the tooth or gum, it can be carried throughout the body, by way of the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on other bodily systems. We have listed a few health concerns related to poor oral health below:
- Heart disease and inflammation
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Detrimental effects on Diabetes
- Respiratory issues
- Fertility issues
If you are becoming concerned that your pain could be something more serious or it is becoming unbearable, calling our office to schedule an appointment for a check-up could be a wise decision. Our friendly staff will accommodate you as much as possible in finding a time that is most convenient for you.
When It’s Impossible To Make It to the Dental Office Right Away
We realize that an emergency visit isn’t always the most convenient for everyone’s schedule. If you can’t make it in to see an emergency dentist at Fort Walton Beach right away, there are some things you can do to ease the pain, while slowing down the progression of any potential infection.
Keeping your mouth clean and free of bacteria is important. Using mouthwash to disinfect germs several times a day, along with flossing and brushing your teeth, will be most beneficial. You can also take a pain reliever and use a warm compress against your jaw to ease the pain.
A Dislodged or Cracked Tooth
Our teeth tend to soften and weaken with age, making them easier to break off when eating hard foods. Sometimes accidents happen, especially with young children. A hard knock from a baseball, fist, or even a hard floor can break off a tooth. A very small chip is usually not an immediate cause for concern. However, half of a tooth missing or a dislodged tooth could be.
Athletic Dental Injuries
Athletic injuries can and do happen fairly often. Athletes are usually advised to wear a mouthguard, which helps to protect the teeth like a cushion to absorb the shock of impact. This is not a failsafe, however, as mouthguards can always be knocked out or the impact can be so severe that damage still occurs.
Children and Adolescent Dental Injuries
As much as parents would like to bubble-wrap their little ones, kids are just going to be kids – playing freely and throwing caution to the wind. This includes adolescents, doing such things as bike riding, skateboarding, rollerblading, motor cross racing, etc. In addition, we often tend to think that a broken or dislodged baby tooth isn’t that big of a deal and that their adult tooth will just eventually come in.
This is dangerous thinking, as a broken or dislodged tooth can often cause other issues, such as damage to the tongue or cheeks or even causing their adult teeth to grow in incorrectly. When in doubt, you should always have a damaged tooth looked at by a dentist. It’s also a good idea to check your baby or toddler’s teeth regularly, as older children and adolescents will usually let you know if they’ve had an accident or a tooth is hurting them.
Is a Chipped Tooth Considered a Dental Emergency?
Chipped teeth are not uncommon. Tiny chips usually do little harm and are more of a cosmetic concern. Larger chips, however, can damage the inner layers of the tooth. If your chipped tooth is causing significant pain and making eating difficult, then an emergency visit is probably in order.
Is a Dislodged or Broken Tooth Considered a Dental Emergency?
A broken or dislodged tooth should always be considered a reason for an emergency dentist in Fort Walton Beach. Time can also be a critical factor when repairing the tooth.
How Should You Treat a Dislodged or Broken Tooth?
The situation for a dislodged or broken tooth is not only time-sensitive, but requires additional steps to ensure a smooth re-integration for the tooth, during your emergency medical visit. For adults, it is best to hold a dislodged tooth carefully by the crown, while returning it to its place and lightly biting down on it to prevent it from falling back out, while making your way to the dental office. This is to prevent the tooth and socket from drying out.
For little children, the dislodged tooth should be placed in a container full of lightly salted water or milk for preservation. Having them hold the dislodged tooth in their mouth could be a choking hazard.
Incessant Bleeding of the Gums
There are a number of things that can cause your gums to bleed, such as brushing too hard or hard foods that puncture the gums. Some people experience bleeding after flossing if they haven’t flossed in a while. If you are experiencing bleeding of the gums regularly, this could indicate gum disease, such as gingivitis.
Although this can gradually become more serious, it is usually not a reason for emergency dental care. If not addressed soon, however, it could damage your overall health and cause permanent damage to your gum line and teeth.
Reason for Concern
If you are experiencing excessive bleeding that will not stop, then this is a sign that you require an emergency dentist in Fort Walton Beach. This could be indicative of an underlying infection or damage to the teeth or gums and should be addressed immediately.
Adults and children live with cavities every day that go untreated due to the lack of symptoms and being unaware of them. Though minor cavities are not considered an emergency, they need to be addressed soon to prevent further damage or future emergency medical care. Some symptoms of minor or developing cavities are:
- Tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet substances
- Mild pain or discomfort
Fissure or Pit Cavities
The various grooves and fissures located at the tops or bottoms of the teeth are the perfect place for food and plaque to become trapped and develop into cavities. This is most common in the molar teeth, which are more difficult to clean thoroughly. They are easiest to spot and look like black dots or lines in the grooves of the teeth. Although these are not considered an emergency, they do require attention to prevent further decay.
Smooth Surface Cavities
Smooth surface cavities usually develop either on the sides of the teeth or on the backside, facing the inside of the mouth. These are harder to spot and often go unnoticed. This is the reason you should get regular check-ups to catch any difficult-to-spot cavities. Like minor or fissure cavities, they don’t usually require emergency treatment unless they have progressed into a major cavity, causing significant pain and possibly further damage to the tooth or gum.
A root cavity will develop over the root of the tooth. It can also go unnoticed until it has progressed enough to cause significant decay and discoloration where the tooth and gum meet. These types of cavities can pose a health risk and require emergency dental treatment.
When Should You Consider Cavities an Emergency?
So how do you determine when a cavity warrants a phone call for an emergency dental appointment? When a cavity spreads to the pulp of the tooth, it’s time to seek emergency care. However, since the pulp of the tooth is not visible, we often rely on the symptoms to alert us that the cavity has become serious, requiring emergency treatment. These symptoms can include:
- Sharp pain around the tooth
- Random onsets of pain
- Chronic pain in the gums or jaw
How Should Cavities Be Treated?
Most cavities can be treated, removed, and replaced with a filling unless the level of decay has reached the pulp of the tooth. In this case, a root canal may be required, which is a much more serious type of treatment. This is why dental care should not be postponed if a cavity is suspected.
An abscessed tooth is the result of an infection that has penetrated to the root of the tooth. This can be the result of an infection from within the tooth or an injury affecting the root of the tooth. Painful symptoms are usually the reason most people seek emergency treatment. Some people, however, don’t even realize they have an abscessed tooth until the symptoms become severe. An abscessed tooth is always a reason to seek emergency dental care.
Signs of an Abscessed Tooth
The symptoms for both a major cavity and an abscessed tooth can be the same, except it is usually more severe for the abscessed tooth. When a tooth becomes abscessed, severe pain can radiate from the affected tooth, down to the jaw, neck, and even up to the ear. It can also lead to swelling, major headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and often cause a fever. A small lump on the gum of the affected tooth can often be visible as well.
The Seriousness of an Abscessed Tooth
An abscessed tooth is a serious business. The pocket underneath the root of the tooth is full of bacteria, which can quickly spread to the rest of the body via the bloodstream. If not treated immediately, this bacteria can cause inflammation and other health issues. It can even become life-threatening in some cases.
Treatment of an Abscessed Tooth
The infection can often be drained out and rinsed, however, a root canal may be required to save the tooth. Severe cases may even require complete extraction of the tooth. To reduce inflammation and infection, antibiotics will be prescribed for several days or weeks.
Give Yourself Peace of Mind
If you find yourself dealing with any of the issues mentioned here that require an emergency dentist fort walton beach or simply want to make an appointment for a regular check-up to give yourself some peace of mind, then don’t hesitate to call us. Get in touch with us at the office of Dr. Steven C. Hewett, in Champions Gate, FL. We are eager to put a healthy smile back on your face and help you get back to your daily life.