When we think of a dental emergency, we typically conjure thoughts of a knocked out tooth, blood, and other scary images. But if symptoms are more subtle, would you be able to determine if a toothache, for example, constituted an emergency?
Dr. Alistair Saeghi and his extraordinary team at Modern Age Dentistry offer a plethora of treatments, from routine cleanings and exams for the entire family to cosmetic dental procedures, InvisalignⓇ treatment, and yes, emergencies.
Dr. Saeghi approaches your care with expertise gained from many years of practice, a knowledge of the most advanced dental treatments, and warmth. That last quality is especially important because we know that for many, a visit to the dentist’s office is anxiety-producing!
Is it an emergency?
The short answer is, it depends, since toothaches can stem from issues that aren’t considered emergency-level serious to very urgent.
Having a toothache simply means that you’re experiencing pain in or around your tooth, and though that description sounds relatively benign, anyone who has had a toothache can tell you that it’s a pain like no other. It can affect sleep, work, and your quality of life.
You may feel sensitivity when you’re not doing anything with your mouth; experience sharp pain when you try to chew, eat, or bite; and notice swelling and an all-around achiness and persistent throbbing.
Common causes of toothache include untreated tooth decay and sinusitis. Sinusitis is a health condition that causes sinus inflammation and is linked to bacterial, viral, or fungal infection in a sinus cavity. The roots of your upper teeth are located near your sinuses, so you may notice pain specifically in those teeth.
If Dr. Saeghi decides that treatment for your toothache can wait a day, you may be able to get relief at home before your dental appointment by using a warm water rinse in your mouth, making sure that any food wedged between your teeth that may be causing sensitivity is removed with dental floss, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers.
An impacted wisdom tooth may also be responsible for a toothache. An impacted tooth is one that gets lodged in your bone or gum tissue and is unable to grow in.
If you suffer serious tooth trauma and lose a tooth, the situation has gone beyond a simple toothache, and immediate care is needed.
Less common causes of toothache include certain neurological conditions and lung and heart diseases, since your vagus nerve passes through your jaw to get to your heart and lungs. Tooth pain can also be a warning sign of an impending heart attack.
If Dr. Saeghi determines that most of these problems aren’t causing your tooth pain, but that it’s linked to decay, a routine visit to Modern Age for a filling may be all that’s in order. However, if decay has greatly progressed, an emergency may be brewing.
When a toothache constitutes a dental emergency
You will need an emergency dental appointment if your decay has been untreated for a long time and you’ve developed an abscess, which is an infection that develops near your tooth or in the pulp inside of it.
Aside from terrible, constant pain, abscess symptoms include:
- A visible knot on your gum
- Increasing swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rush of foul-tasting fluid if your abscess bursts
Time is of the essence with this situation, because there’s a chance the infection could spread to your brain, which is life-threatening and requires immediate treatment.
Depending on your symptoms and their severity, Dr. Saegi determines whether you can wait to see him until the following day or if you should go directly to the nearest hospital emergency room.
The Modern Age Dentistry team is ready to help whenever you need us, but we hope that we will see you for routine procedures rather than serious ones. Dr. Saeghi is dedicated to providing extraordinary care, and if your need is urgent, he can help you determine your next steps. Call the office most convenient to you to set up an appointment, or request one online. We are located in Los Angeles, West Hills, and Ojai, California.