In response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, dentists are being asked to postpone all nonessential dental procedures and focus on dental emergencies.
But how can you tell if you have a dental emergency? Here are some common situations that might be dental emergencies.
In some cases, a toothache might be a dental emergency. We consider it an emergency when it is likely an infected (abscessed) tooth. If left untreated, an infected tooth can turn deadly. Symptoms of an infected tooth include:
- Discoloration of painful tooth
- A sore on your gums near the tooth
- Pus or other discharge from the tooth or gums
- Foul smell or taste from tooth
- Local warmth
If you have several of these symptoms associated with your toothache, consider it an emergency and make an appointment right away. We can remove the infection with root canal therapy, protecting your tooth and your overall health.
A note about fever: Fever can be associated with a toothache, and it’s actually a symptom of the most serious tooth infections. However, it is also one of the most characteristic symptoms of COVID-19. If you have a fever that you can’t definitively link to your toothache, visit the emergency room, not our office, especially if you have symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing.
Objects Stuck in Teeth
If you have something stuck in your teeth and can’t get it out, that might be an emergency–it can lead to injury or infection. First try to remove the food or other object using recommended dental tools, such as dental floss, interdental brushes, or a water flosser.
If you can’t remove it immediately, don’t panic. If it is causing you serious pain, contact us. If not, wait several hours (potentially overnight) before trying again to remove the object (again, using only recommended dental tools). If you can’t get it out then, it’s time to contact us.
Never use metal tools or anything not designed as a dental tool to try to remove objects in teeth.
If you took a blow to your mouth, your teeth might have suffered significant trauma, which could lead to an emergency. A minor chipped tooth is not an emergency, but if you experience significant, spontaneous pain from the chipped area, it might need emergency treatment.
You should also contact us if your tooth has been knocked loose and won’t stop wiggling. If your tooth has been knocked out, treat it with care. Don’t touch the tooth root. If it’s dirty, rinse it with water. Put it in a milk or saliva bath to preserve it until you can get care. You can even put it in your mouth. Put it back in place if it fits easily back as it should. Otherwise, put it between your cheek and gums.
Lost restorations aren’t necessarily emergencies. Small fillings can be replaced later if they come out. However, dental crowns and larger restorations need to be replaced quickly to protect the tooth. If you lose a large filling, a crown, veneer, or other large restoration, please consider this an emergency.
Why See a Dentist for Dental Emergencies in Anchorage
It’s always best to visit the dentist if you have a dental emergency. We are better equipped to handle specific situations of dental problems. That means that we are better able to preserve your teeth and give you an improved long-term outcome from your treatment.
In the emergency department, doctors are dealing with many different types of emergencies and they approach dental emergencies as simply as possible, which might mean pulling a tooth that could be saved or simply giving you antibiotics that will reduce infection but won’t cure your problem.
It’s also important to avoid stressing emergency department workers whenever possible. Across the country, healthcare workers are being stressed, and they don’t need the added difficulty of dealing with your dental problem.