Dental emergencies can come about in any number of ways. Your discomfort may be due to an injury to the oral facial area, the acute flare up of a longstanding problem, or the result of the sudden onset of seemingly inexplicable pain. Whatever the case may be, urgent dental care is needed to provide you with relief and to avoid any further consequences to your oral health or function, as well as your overall well being.
There are many reasons to seek emergency dental care, including severe toothaches, chipped or fractured teeth, a dental abscess, impacted teeth, loose or broken fillings, lost or dislodged crowns, broken dentures and more. While the pain of a toothache is one of the more common reasons that patients come to our dental office for emergency dental care, we also promptly treat emergencies that are not necessarily painful like crowns that have been dislodged and broken dentures that leave embarrassing gaps in one’s smile.
Whether your dental emergency is painful, if it affects the appearance of your smile, or if you suspect that an infection is present, contact our office immediately for care. We will make every effort to see you as promptly as possible.
A toothache is the most common reason for oral pain. It is an uncomfortable, distressing and debilitating situation that if left untreated can result in serious consequences to an individual’s oral health as well as overall well-being. Depending upon the underlying cause of a toothache and the degree of damage to the tooth and involvement of the surrounding tissues, the type and severity of symptoms can vary. While mild symptoms of discomfort are easy to dismiss and ignore, waiting until toothache pain is more consistent or severe is not advised. The best option is to make a timely appointment with the dentist for a professional assessment and care.
Although the reason for most toothaches is cavities (tooth decay/dental caries), a toothache or what may feel like pain related to the teeth can be due to any number of underlying conditions including:
Different types and degrees of toothache pain can point to different underlying causes and help in the diagnosis of the problem. Sharp and stabbing pain when eating or drinking hot and cold foods may be due to the presence of a cavity or exposed dentin and sensitive teeth. Pain with pressure or biting down may indicate a cavity or even a broken filling, a cracked tooth or periodontal problem. If the pain is continuous or throbbing, it is a sign that tooth decay or trauma has affected the nerve of a tooth or that an infection requiring prompt care is present. Localized swelling around the tooth or more generalized tissue and facial swelling and fever must be taken care of as quickly as possible.
Treatment of a toothache depends upon the diagnosis of the underlying problem, the degree of damage to the involved tooth or surrounding tissues and if any infection is present. Once the dentist has performed a comprehensive evaluation of the case, the appropriate recommendations and care to alleviate the symptoms and restore oral health will be provided.
Traumatic oral injuries can range from dental injuries to the teeth and their supporting tissues to lacerations in and around the mouth as well as more complex and severe damage to the soft tissues and bones of the face. These injuries are often caused by direct physical trauma to the teeth, mouth and face that may be the result of a fall, sports or work related incidents, motor vehicle accidents or assaults.
Chipped, Fractured or Cracked Teeth
It is not uncommon for a tooth to sustain a chip, crack or fracture. It may happen simply from biting down on a piece of ice, chewing on a pencil, or sustaining trauma such as a direct blow to the face and mouth. The damage to a tooth can range from a minor craze line or a small chip of the dental enamel to a more extensive fracture of the tooth that can even go so far as to fracture the root or split the tooth. Based upon the extent of damage to the fractured or cracked tooth, treatment may simply involve placing a suitable restoration such as a filling or crown or a root canal procedure along with a restoration. When the damage is extensive, an extraction is sometimes required.
Dentoalveolar injuries refer to traumatic injuries involving the teeth and the bone surrounding the teeth. These injuries can include teeth that have been dislodged or moved partially out of their sockets, with or without a segment of the adjacent bone, or an avulsion, which means that a tooth has been completely “knocked out” of its socket. In these situations, immediate dental care to reposition and stabilize the involved teeth and/or put the bone back into the correct anatomical positions is required. Beyond the routine post op care to check for tissue healing, the involved teeth are typically followed for a longer period of time to check for subsequent nerve involvement or other issues that may require additional care.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries in and around the oral cavity include lacerations within the mouth (intra-oral) and facial lacerations. If possible clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. For puncture wounds, tissue tears, and lacerations to the lips, cheeks, tongue or any other tissues in and around the oral cavity, prompt emergency care is required.
Dislocated or Fractured Jaw
Facial trauma that has resulted in a suspected dislocation or jaw fracture requires immediate care as problems with eating and breathing can ensue. Prompt care can minimize complications and accelerate healing. For a fractured jaw, treatment depends upon the extent of the injuries. While some clean breaks may only require immobilization, multiple fractures of the jawbone or displaced breaks involve more complex surgical care. If on the other hand the jaw has been dislocated as a result of a traumatic incident or opening the mouth too widely, it will need to be manipulated back into the correct position. For people who have had more than one dislocation, surgery may be needed to reduce the risk of further dislocations.
Dr. Dan has been voted as one of America's Top Dentists by the Consumer Research Council of America in 2018. This accomplishment is based on his experience, training, and membership in professional organizations. In addition to his dental training, Dr. Dan has received advanced specialized training in dental implant surgery, in which he is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and in Orthodontics focused on Invisalign.
Requirements of Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists: