You’ve just sat down to enjoy a delicious bowl of popcorn. You take a handful and bite down on that buttery goodness… only to hear a menacing CRUNCH.
Yes, you’ve just cracked your tooth. Although not life-threatening, this situation is considered a dental emergency.
Whether you play sports, or just sat down to enjoy some salty nuts, you’re at risk of a possible dental emergency. And it’s important to know what constitutes an emergency so that you can get it taken care of asap.
Check out this article to learn the 7 signs of a dental emergency that you should never ignore.
1. You’re Bleeding
Blood is never a good sign in your mouth. Many people experience minor bleeding when they floss their teeth. This is an early warning sign of gum disease.
A little blood when you brush or floss isn’t an emergency. But if the bleeding is severe and won’t stop, it’s time to go to the dentist.
If you cut your gum and can’t control the bleeding, you may need stitches. Cuts may occur directly to the gum or as a result of breaking a tooth. Read more here to learn about what to do when you have bleeding gums.
Also, bleeding can be a sign of an infection inside a tooth. If so, you need to get on antibiotic medications immediately to ensure that infection doesn’t spread.
2. You’re in Severe Pain
Pain in your teeth isn’t normal. So it’s always best to consult with a dentist even if the pain is minor.
Minor tooth pain feels like a dull ache. And it’s usually controlled by over-the-counter pain medications. But if you’re in severe pain, you need to seek treatment right away.
Severe tooth pain may be caused by a broken or chipped tooth. It also might occur because of an infection in the root of the tooth. And it could be caused by infected cuts to the gums.
3. There’s Swelling
Call a dentist any time you have swelling in your mouth or face. This includes the jaw too. It’s probably a sign of something worse going on under the surface.
A swollen jaw may be caused by a bacterial infection in the salivary glands. This isn’t a common occurrence, but it can happen. And when it does, it causes other problems in your mouth.
Your jaw would also swell if it were broken. This can happen during a sporting event, or a car accident, or even in people who suffer from osteoporosis. Your dentist may need to wire the jaw shut to allow it to heal.
4. You Have a Sore and It’s Not Getting Better
Mouth sores are a common breeding ground for infections. Canker sores affect the inner part of the lips and gums. And they usually go away on their own within a few days.
But if you have a stubborn sore that hasn’t gone away after a week, it’s time to see your dentist. Some sores are deeper and wider than others. These deeper sores will take longer to heal and are more likely to get infected.
Always see a dentist if your canker sores:
- Recur frequently.
- Are too painful to control with over-the-counter medications.
- Cause difficulty eating or swallowing.
- Cause swelling and fever.
5. You Develop Bumps in Your Mouth
Oral cancer is something you should always be on the lookout for. One of the signs of oral cancer is bumps developing on your cheeks, lips, gums, or tongue.
If you see any strange bumps show up anywhere in your mouth, consider it a dental emergency and seek medical help.
You might see lumps in your cheeks or thickening of the skin inside your mouth. Some oral cancers affect the neck so you might feel lumps in your neck and throat. And these might affect how you swallow.
Oral cancer might show up as white or red patches on your tongue. And you may notice difficulty moving your tongue. These are all issues that need dental care asap.
6. You’re Numb
Numbness is another possible sign of oral cancer. You might feel that part of your tongue or the inside of your cheeks goes numb for no reason. See your dentist immediately if this happens.
Numbness can also happen because of nerve damage in your jaw. This might cause your lips to go numb and pain to shoot through your jaw. This type of numbness may be a sign that your wisdom teeth have grown into your jawbone.
It’s also important to see a doctor if you have a tooth that’s suddenly gone numb. This could be an indicator that there’s an infection in the root of the tooth. The root is where the nerves enter and exit the tooth.
7. Your Tooth Is Loose or Cracked
One of the most common dental emergencies is a cracked or broken tooth. Many athletes experience this when they play sports without wearing a mouthguard.
Cracked teeth are often very painful. And even if they don’t hurt right away, they probably will if you don’t get them treated.
A broken tooth means a higher risk that bacteria can reach the inside of the tooth. This inside part of the tooth is called the pulp. It contains nerves and blood vessels.
If you break your tooth, the pulp is exposed. Infection in the tooth pulp can cause you to lose your tooth. And worse, it can spread into your mouth and throughout your body through the network of blood vessels in the tooth.
Even a loose tooth is something to pay close attention to. It’s not normal for adults to have loose teeth. Especially if the tooth suddenly wiggled loose for no reason.
Always have a loose tooth checked out asap. It’s a sign that you may have a gum infection.
Don’t Ignore a Dental Emergency
Remember to pay attention to what goes on in your mouth. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it could be a dental emergency. See your dentist immediately if you suffer from any of the signs we listed in this article.
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