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When to Seek Help for a Dental Emergency in Florida

What Qualifies as a Dental Emergency in Florida?

There’s a very wide range of oral health issues that can be considered a dental emergency. Most oral health professionals recommend seeing an emergency dentist if you’re feeling severe pain that’s affecting your ability to sleep or perform everyday activities and isn’t relieved by over-the-counter pain medicine. Another emergency situation is when you suffer an injury to any part of your mouth, such as a laceration or wound to the cheeks, lips, or tongue.

If you’ve developed any of these symptoms, you’re likely experiencing a dental emergency in Florida

Here’s a look at seven common situations that require emergency treatment:

1. A fractured jaw: Sports injuries, car accidents, or other trauma to the face can cause a fractured or broken jaw. If you’ve sustained an injury and think you have a fractured jaw, it’s imperative to seek emergency care.

2. A knocked-out-tooth: Losing a tooth is a stressful situation, but if you act quickly, it’s possible for your dentist to save the tooth. The American Association of Endodontists suggests that the chances of saving your tooth increase if you receive treatment within an hour of the tooth being knocked out. If you engage in high-impact sports, our dentists recommend keeping an emergency tooth-preservation kit approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) on hand so you can act quickly in the event of emergencies.

3. Dry socket pain and infection after extraction: It’s estimated that 2-5% of people who have a tooth extracted will develop a dry socket. When a blood clot fails to form in the socket where a tooth was extracted, a dry socket can occur, which can expose the bone and nerve to food, fluids, and air. For many people, over-the-counter medications aren’t strong enough to control the pain. Symptoms of a dry socket include dizziness, a foul mouth odor, pain that spreads to the ear and neck, and headache.

4. Facial swelling and pain: There are many conditions that can cause facial pain and swelling, including a fracture, TMJ dislocation, infection, an allergic reaction, and inflammation. All of these conditions require urgent attention.

5. Excessive bleeding: Hemorrhaging after experiencing trauma to the lower face needs emergency treatment from a dentist as soon as possible.

6. Gum injury: Sustaining a deep gouge or laceration to the gum tissue requires an emergency visit to your dentist as soon as possible. Injuries to the gum tissue can affect the surrounding teeth, causing permanent damage.

7. A dislodged or fractured filling: If a filling becomes chipped or broken, your tongue or the side of your cheek can rub against the sharp edges and become injured. Your dentist will also act quickly to prevent the exposed tooth from additional damage.
Why Is a Tooth Abscess an Emergency?

An abscess is a bacterial infection that won’t resolve on its own without emergency dental services. This life-threatening infection develops when a pocket of pus forms around the tooth’s root or even the gum tissue. This can cause significant damage to the bone, gums, and teeth near the infected area.

One of the dangers associated with an untreated abscess is the increased risk of developing mediastinitis, a serious condition that causes swelling and irritation in the middle of the chest, near the lungs. This life-threatening condition has a mortality rate of 40%. There is also an increased risk of sepsis, a dangerous infection that can lead to organ failure. Thankfully, when an abscess is treated in its early stages, the rate of successful treatment is very high.

The following symptoms are the most common signs of an abscess:

  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Throbbing tooth pain
  • Swelling in the face or cheek
  • Fever
  • Pain that spreads to jaw, neck, or ear

If you develop any of these symptoms, please call our office right away. An abscess is treated by draining the pus and treating the infection with antibiotics. If the tooth can be saved, a root canal will be performed; however, an extraction may be needed if the tooth can’t be restored.

Cracked Tooth: Is It an Emergency?

Although tooth enamel is composed of hard minerals, it’s possible to chip or crack a tooth through many common activities. These include teeth grinding, biting down on a piece of hard candy, or playing sports. If you suddenly chip or break a tooth, it’s important to stay calm during this high-stress, emergency situation. Rinsing out your mouth with warm water can help to keep the area clean. It’s also very important to call our office right away to schedule an exam and learn about the next steps to take.

Although alarming, a chipped tooth is usually an emergency situation only if it’s a serious fracture that causes bleeding or intense pain. This is an urgent situation that requires immediate treatment. However, if it’s a minor crack that only affects the enamel, you can simply schedule an appointment so the tooth can be examined by a dentist. Minor swelling and discomfort are typically alleviated with a cold compress or over-the-counter pain medicine.

To prevent an emergency that results in a cracked or chipped tooth, our dentists suggest mouthguards for patients who grind their teeth at night (bruxism) and those who play contact sports such as hockey, basketball, or football. These appliances protect your teeth from damage. If you’re interested in a mouthguard, they can be custom made to fit the exact shape of your mouth, providing superior protection.

Although some emergency situations are unavoidable, receiving routine preventative oral care can help you avoid many urgent dental problems. However, when a situation arises that requires immediate treatment, we encourage you to call our office for emergency services. Whether you have throbbing tooth pain, lost a tooth, or sustained any other dental emergency in Florida, you can count on our team to provide the treatment you need.

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