How Can a Toothache Turn into a Dental Emergency?

When you have a toothache your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong with your teeth or gums. Your tooth may be infected with a dangerous abscess, or you may be dealing with advanced cavities.

If you are dealing with a toothache, it will not go away on its own. An untreated toothache will only become worse with time and, if you are dealing with an infection, then it may spread to other parts of your body.

In fact, people have died from severe dental infections that have spread to their lungs or heart. So, if you want to avoid paying large amounts of money to treat severe dental issues, you should make an appointment with your dentist asap.

A toothache that’s treated quickly may allow you to save your infected teeth and prevent permanent damage to your body. Here, we will focus on how a toothache can turn into a dental emergency.

When should I consider a toothache as a dental emergency?

If you have severe pain in your mouth, gums or teeth, then you should call your dentist to schedule an appointment. 

If the pain is extreme, preventing you from eating, talking or even breathing properly, then you should rush to the hospital or an emergency dental clinic in your area. 

Moreover, if your gums feel achy, or if they bleed when you brush, eat or floss, then you may be dealing with severe gingivitis or periodontitis. Gum disease that is untreated will cause bone loss and the eventual loss of your teeth, so it should not be taken lightly.

As mentioned, dental abscesses can be very dangerous and even fatal if they are not treated in time. Your body may try to drain the abscess by forming a pustule or a tiny sac that appears on your gums or even on the exterior of your mouth.

The abscess may appear yellowish-white in colour and may need to be drained or excised by an oral surgeon. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to treat the infection. In some cases, an oral surgeon may need to perform a root canal procedure to save the tooth.

However, if the abscess is too far gone, the surgeon will usually have no choice but to extract the dead tooth. Furthermore, some toothaches can make it hard to breathe, which is a definitive medical emergency.

Certain dental problems may also cause the throat, tonsils or lymph nodes to swell, which may cause dysphagia (trouble swallowing). Headaches and even a fever may develop due to a severe dental infection that has spread to other vital parts of the human body.

How to manage unbearable tooth pain?

Most dental issues will become minor. Patients often ignore dental issues when they’re small, assuming they will go away on their own. In truth, cavities tend to grow quite slowly as they eat away at the enamel and pulp of the infected tooth or teeth.

In time, a small cavity will become very large and will cause intense pain, sensitivity, swelling, bad breath and other serious health problems. Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may help provide temporary relief from pain and fever.

You can also try applying ice packs to the affected area to numb the pain. Certain topical painkillers, such as ointments or gels, may also be applied to numb the pain for a few hours.

A saltwater mixture may also help cleanse the infected area and help reduce some of the swelling and pain for a few hours. 

We would not recommend that you use mouthwash to help deal with a toothache, as mouthwash products tend to contain alcohol and can be very abrasive. Vigorous brushing will also not help the issue, as you cannot brush away a cavity.

The best course of action to deal with unbearable tooth pain is to visit your dentist or rush to an emergency dentist to obtain immediate pain relief.

How can toothaches be prevented?

You should brush at least twice a day. Ideally, you should brush three times a day after meals. Use a high-quality toothpaste that contains fluoride and provides multi-level protection (i.e. plaque, tartar, cavity protection + whitening and anti-gingivitis properties). 

If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, such as tingling sensations while eating/drinking hot or cold items, then a toothpaste that protects against dental sensitivity is strongly recommended. Please speak to your dentist in order to determine which toothpaste is ideal for your oral health.

Flossing may be even more important than brushing in certain regards. Toothbrushes simply cannot reach areas between your gums. You should floss at least twice a day in order to remove plaque and gunk from between your teeth.

After brushing and flossing your teeth, you should rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash. You should also see your dentist once every six months in order to undergo an oral examination and cleaning.

Protect Your Teeth

Dental discomfort will only get worse with time. You can prevent many dental problems by visiting your dentist regularly. Regular dental check-ups will help treat dental issues while still minor and easily treatable.

You can also help reduce the risk of cavities, diabetes and heart disease by reducing your sodium and sugar intake. Try to avoid the temptation to snack throughout the day. Rinse 30 minutes after meals with water, and avoid acidic and sugary drinks such as soda and fruit juices.

Smoking can also cause many dental problems, including oral and throat cancer, so you should quit smoking if you currently smoke.

To sum up, eating a healthy and balanced diet, visiting your dentist every six months for check-ups and cleanings, and brushing and flossing regularly will help keep your teeth white and healthy for a very long time.

Author Bio: Erin Gregory is a blogger in Toronto. She is currently working as a Community Manager for several small businesses. She has graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.


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