It’s not always easy to differentiate between a dental emergency and a medical one, especially if you are experiencing pain in the aftermath of an accident, however, there are some symptoms that you can look out for that might indicate that you need medical attention – even if you have not broken or damaged your teeth in an obvious way.
Some people might tell you that things like toothache do not represent a dental emergency but that couldn’t be further from the truth; if you are in a lot of pain or you think there might be something wrong with your teeth, then you are well within your rights to make an appointment with your nearest emergency dentist and get the problem assessed. You don’t have to be in excruciating pain to speak to a dentist at short notice. There’s really no reason why you should put up with painful symptoms when your body is trying to tell you that something is not right; there’s no need for you to panic and act irrationally but you are better off erring on the side of caution where your dental health is concerned. Instead of taking a painkiller and trying to ignore the problem, visit the dentist and tackle it head on – it’s the only way you are going to get it dealt with long-term.
What are some of the symptoms of a dental emergency?
To help you tell the difference between symptoms that can be treated in good time and those that need emergency treatment straight away, we’re going to take a look at some ambiguous symptoms that might not instantly point to an emergency situation.
Shooting pain – Sharp pain that shoots through the centre of the tooth when you bite or close your jaws together could be symptomatic of many different conditions; it is frequently related to infection that could be the result of tooth decay. This type of pain does not usually respond to off-the-shelf pain relief pills because it tends to only last a few seconds, then it dies down; it is this shooting sensation of pain that points to infection that will need a root canal rather than generic toothache that stems from cavities.
Extended toothache – Throbbing pain that lasts longer than a few minutes can be very debilitating and could not only affecting eating, but also sleep patterns and possibly speech, leading to a very stressful situation all round. This could be a sign of deep set infection that needs to be dealt with at an early stage to avoid irreparable tooth damage and further discomfort.
High levels of pain – If toothache is left to deteriorate to the point where it doesn’t respond to any type of pain relief, even prescription medication, it is certainly an emergency condition that needs treatment right away. It’s doubtful that you will be able to ignore this kind of pain when it arises and there’s no reason why you should try; this sort of problem could be indicative of serious infection that could become life-threatening if it is not treated in a timely fashion. If you notice other symptoms that might at first appear to be unrelated, such as dizziness, nausea, and fever, then you should go to the hospital rather than the dental clinic as you may have developed blood poisoning. A dentist won’t have the right skills to help you if your overall health is affected, so you should speak to a doctor as soon as the symptoms become apparent.
What sorts of problems should be treated but are not a dental emergency?
Short bursts of pain – This kind of toothache is usually related to cavities and decay because the pain will radiate from the inner pulp as it reacts with outside temperatures. Although the ache might be alarming when you first notice it, you don’t need to worry unduly about short bursts of pain, even though you should be making an appointment as soon as possible to get the cavities filled. If you decide to ignore this condition there’s a good chance that your teeth will be damaged to the point where a root canal is needed or an extraction – as a last resort.
Sensitivity – Most people will notice that their teeth respond to extreme temperature changes by throbbing slightly after eating something hot or cold, this is nothing to worry about and is quite normal in healthy teeth. However, if the pain lasts more than a few minutes you should think about speaking to your dentist because there could some issues with enamel erosion or gum disease that is exposing the inner pulp to outside elements. Again, this is not something that needs immediate attention but it should be dealt with in good time to avoid further problems.
Small abscesses – Swellings along the gum line are the result of bacterial infection, but if you are not in serious pain then the situation is unlikely to be regarded as an emergency. As mentioned earlier, other symptoms relating to your general health might mean that the infection has taken a turn for the worse and then you should seek a medical opinion as soon as possible.
What kind of thing doesn’t need to be seen by a dentist at all?
There are a couple of common conditions that might be unpleasant but don’t warrant a trip to the regular dentist, let alone the emergency dentist.
Cold sores – Although they might be painful and contagious, cold sores are not a symptom of a dental emergency; in the vast majority of cases they don’t require any medical attention at all. There are plenty of products you can purchase from your local pharmacy or high street that should be able to help, or if you have recurring sores that are difficult to treat you should speak to your GP about other possible therapies.
Mouth ulcers – Most people will develop an ulcer at some point in their lives, they are nothing to worry about and can be quickly cured using antiseptic gel – such as Bonjela, which sooths the inflammation and kills germs. If you have constant problems with large, sore ulcers, there may some underlying health problems that you would need to discuss with your doctor.
For more information on dental emergencies and the treatments available to help, call the Pearl Dental Clinic; this London surgery can provide twenty-four hour appointments and an advice line to point you in the right direction if you are unsure about your situation. Get in contact today if you think you might need treatment at short notice.