Is My Toothache Considered a Dental Emergency?

Apr 02, 2024
Is My Toothache Considered a Dental Emergency?
A toothache always signals a problem needing dental care, but not all toothaches are emergencies. So, how do you decide if your toothache warrants same-day attention? By answering three simple questions.

Toothache pain may come and go and range from mild to excruciating. No matter what symptoms you have, you can be sure of one thing: The dental problem causing your toothache won’t heal without treatment. Instead, it keeps getting worse, causing more pain and leading to tooth loss.

 At Fremaux Dental Care, Britney Beard, DDS, understands the urgency of relieving your pain. That’s why she offers same-day emergency dentistry for people of all ages.

Most people wonder if they need to schedule a same-day appointment for a toothache or if they can put off seeing the dentist. Let these three questions guide your decision:

Question 1: How severe is your pain? 

Mild pain can usually wait a few days, but a severe toothache always needs immediate dental care. Though everyone has different sensitivity levels, the severity of your pain reflects the extent of the underlying problem.

Excruciating pain is a red flag that you have extensive tooth decay, a pulp infection (abscessed tooth), or an injury deep enough to reach the pulp (in the center of each tooth where nerves reside).

You need rapid treatment for an extreme toothache to:

Ease your pain

Severe pain makes it hard or impossible to eat, drink, or brush your teeth. The only way to get fast relief is to treat the underlying dental condition.

Save your tooth

By the time you have a severe toothache, the inflammation has likely damaged the nerves and blood vessels, spread into your gums, and eroded the jawbone, putting you at risk of losing the tooth.

Protect your health

Dental infections can get into your bloodstream, carry bacteria throughout your body, and cause systemic inflammation. This type of inflammation contributes to chronic health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Question 2: How long have you had a toothache?

You should schedule a checkup for a mild toothache or occasional twinges of pain that come and go, but they don’t need emergency care.

You need an emergency appointment if your pain lasts longer than two days or any of the following symptoms accompany your toothache:

  • Fever
  • Swollen gums
  • Red gums
  • Earache
  • Small lump on your gum
  • Swollen face, neck, or jaw
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold 

These symptoms alert you to an underlying infection or serious dental problem.

Question 3: Did you lose a filling, bridge, or other restoration? 

Dental restorations include fillings, crowns, bridges, veneers, bridges, implants, and dentures. Although they usually last a long time, they eventually loosen and fall out.

While you need prompt attention to replace the restoration and protect the tooth, losing a restoration isn’t an emergency unless you’re in pain or the tooth has sharp, uncomfortable edges. 

Self-care for a toothache

Self-care may ease your pain while you wait for your appointment. Begin by gently brushing and flossing (if pain allows) to eliminate food particles that might irritate a cavity or sensitive area. 

Rinsing with warm salt water often provides temporary pain relief and helps ease inflammation. Mix one cup of warm water with one-half teaspoon of salt, swish it around, and spit it out. 

You can also take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, don’t put aspirin (or other pain relievers) against the tooth. Their ingredients may injure your gums. 

Schedule a dental appointment

Whether you need emergency care or not, don’t wait to schedule a dental appointment. Identifying and treating the source of your toothache is the only way to stop the pain and prevent a worse (and more painful) problem.

If you’re not sure whether your toothache is an emergency, call Fremaux Dental Care. We’ll quickly assess your symptoms and recommend the best course of action.