Is a Toothache a Dental Emergency?


What To Do About Your Toothache

You or a family member is experiencing a toothache, but aside from taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever, what should you do? Is a toothache considered a medical emergency? Does it warrant a trip to the ER? These are common questions people ask themselves when they or a loved one has a particularly bad toothache that won’t go away.

Here’s a rundown of what you should do when a toothache strikes.

Why Toothaches Happen

Pain responses are your body’s way of saying, “Hey, I need some help!” Even intermittent or mild toothaches should never be ignored.

To understand why toothaches are always serious, look at a tooth’s anatomy. Teeth have different layers. The visible tooth, or crown, is made of enamel. Underneath the enamel is dentin, a hard-tissue layer that protects the pulp of the tooth. Enamel has no feeling, dentin can feel some sensitivity, and pulp can feel significant pain due to its nerves and blood vessels. This means if you’re feeling tooth pain, the tooth has been injured to the extent that it’s affecting the dentin and pulp layers.

Unlike a scraped knee or a twisted ankle, our body can’t heal teeth. Therefore, if a tooth is experiencing pain, it means that irreparable damage has occurred and dental care is necessary. The damage could be a simple cavity, a cracked tooth, or a serious dental abscess.

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care

Your symptoms and pain level are good indicators for determining if your toothache is an urgent or emergency situation. 

If your toothache is causing moderate pain encompassing one or two teeth, you should seek out urgent dental care. Urgent dental care typically consists of a same-day visit, meaning your dentist may have you come in as a walk-in appointment or book a visit later in the day. You can take an OTC pain reliever and try warm compresses to keep comfortable until your visit.

If your toothache is causing severe or widespread pain or OTC pain relievers aren’t doing anything to help, you should seek out emergency dental care. Dentists who provide emergency dental care services will have you come in right away for an evaluation and treatment. If your current dentist doesn’t provide emergency services, contact River Walk Dental for emergency dental care in Flower Mound, Texas.

It’s always better to be safe when it comes to your oral health. Even if your toothache is extremely mild or you’ve only felt some sensitivity, give your dentist a call to schedule an evaluation.

When an ER Visit Is Warranted

Most medical and dental professionals firmly recommend that people experiencing toothaches refrain from going to their local ER for care. An ER doctor can’t do much for a typical toothache, aside from help with pain management, and most local ER facilities don’t have an emergency dentist on staff. Therefore, we strongly recommend contacting an emergency dentist first.

However, in rare situations, a toothache or other dental emergency can turn into a true medical emergency that requires swift intervention. An abscessed tooth is one situation in which you may need to visit the ER. 

Dentists offering emergency care can treat dental abscesses, but if one isn’t available and you’re experiencing extreme tooth pain coupled with facial swelling, fever, dizziness, nausea, or lethargy, seek medical help right away. Without medical attention, the infection may spread, and you could develop sepsis, a life-threatening condition.

Other situations that warrant an ER visit include:

  • Uncontrolled oral bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing or throat swelling

If you do need to go to the ER for a dental emergency, contact your dentist as soon as possible to coordinate an appointment for a permanent solution.

Emergency Dentist in Flower Mound, Texas

Dr. Naik and the River Walk Dental team can help you get permanent relief from your toothache with urgent- and emergency-care appointments. Whether you’re already our patient or someone who’s searching for an emergency dentist in Flower Mound, Texas, we’re ready to assist.

During your urgent or emergency dental care visit, Dr. Naik will assess the situation, examine your teeth, and determine the underlying cause of your toothache. She’ll get your pain under control right away and do whatever else she can to help you feel comfortable. 

Once Dr. Naik has determined what the problem is with your tooth, she’ll get started on treatment. For a simple cavity, decay removal and a dental filling may be enough. For more severe decay or a badly cracked tooth, you might need root canal therapy before a dental crown. If your tooth is unsavable, Dr. Naik will extract it and provide you with a restorative solution to fill the gap.

Put an end to your toothache pain today by calling River Walk Dental.

River Walk Dental

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