Tooth Pain: When is it a Dental Emergency?

Your body uses pain to indicate something is wrong, but pain doesn’t always indicate an emergency. Anyone who has experienced tooth pain knows that the quicker it’s relieved, the better, but there are some things you can do at home to decide when you need to see your dentist. Ridgetop Dental offers emergency appointments in Sterling, VA, and we’ve provided some tips on what constitutes an emergency and what you need to do when tooth pain strikes.

Note: If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, don’t wait. Go to your nearest emergency room or call 911.

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What is a Dental Emergency?

The American Dental Association (ADA) categorizes something as a dental emergency when it is potentially life-threatening, such as an infection or severe pain. Urgent dental care, on the other hand, describes treatments that relieve severe pain or keep someone out of the emergency room, such as severe pain from inflammation, an abscess, fracture, or biopsies of abnormal tissue.

Tooth Pain Causes and When to See A Dentist

There are several reasons why you may be experiencing tooth pain:

  • Cavities or filling failures
  • Dry socket
  • Dental trauma
  • Abscess in the mouth as a result of tooth decay
  • Wisdom teeth erupting
  • Recent dental work or orthodontic wires

Some of these problems are more serious than others. Here’s when you need to see a dentist or seek emergency medical care right away:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Bacterial infection causing inflammation that may block the airway
  • Facial trauma

You may need urgent dental care — that is, an appointment within the next day or two — for some of these conditions:

  • Dry socket dressing changes
  • Tooth fractures causing pain
  • Severe pain impeding ability to perform normal activities
  • Abscess that does not interrupt the airway
  • Loss of a permanent tooth or restoration

Tooth Pain Relief At Home

Some less serious, but still painful, conditions such as a toothache from a new cavity may be managed at home while you wait to see your dentist. Try a warm salt water rinse to alleviate pain from a painful tooth or swollen gums. Peppermint oil or clove oil have also been shown to temporarily relieve toothache pain until you can see a dentist. Always consult with your dentist to let them help you decide on the best course of treatment.

Emergency Dentist in Northern Virginia

No one should have to experience tooth pain. Find relief quickly and safely at Ridgetop Dental by calling our office at (703) 520-7410 or learn more about our approach to patient-focused dentistry here.

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