Most people think that chipped or broken teeth are the only genuine dental emergencies, but an oral infection can be a critical situation requiring emergency intervention. The pain from an infected tooth can be debilitating, but the potential adverse effects extend far beyond discomfort. Not only can an infection of this type be a dental emergency, but it can also potentially be a life-threatening condition. It is crucial to seek medical care anytime you believe you have an infected tooth, but certain signs may indicate that your infection requires emergency care right away.
The Pain Is Unbearable
Pain from severe tooth infections can be overwhelming. While many people believe they can grit their teeth and fight through anything, a severe tooth infection can result in pain so great that it may make normal day-to-day activities impossible. In some cases, it may even be impossible to sleep through the night. Pain this intense can rarely be controlled with over-the-counter medication, and attempting to self medicate with higher dosages is often incredibly dangerous. If the pain from a tooth infection is so extreme that it is interfering with your regular life, then it is imperative to seek emergency treatment as soon as possible.
You Have a Fever
If a fever accompanies your tooth infection, then it is likely to be serious even if the pain is not severe. You may also experience other symptoms, including headaches, swelling, or the presence of pus in your mouth. It is essential to recognize these symptoms as they develop and to seek immediate care if they worsen. In all cases, you should contact your dentist as soon as you begin to experience additional symptoms with your toothache. If you are unable to contact your dentist promptly, then emergency care should be your next step.
You Experience Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing
Tooth infections can spread to the skin beneath the tongue, creating a perilous situation that can make it difficult to swallow or breathe. These severe symptoms may be preceded by redness or swelling in the neck, along with a fever and chills. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek emergency care immediately. Difficulty breathing and swallowing should always be treated as a life-threatening medical condition, so if emergency dental care is not available, it is imperative to go to the emergency room immediately. This condition can sometimes develop rapidly, so these symptoms should never be ignored.
While it's easy to treat a toothache as a minor condition, even relatively mild tooth pain can be indicative of a growing infection. Monitoring your symptoms closely and seeking emergency dental care as needed is essential to avoid potentially serious complications.