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Is a Toothache a Sign of a Dental Emergency?

Is a Toothache a Sign of a Dental Emergency?
August 28, 2023

A toothache can really throw  a wrench in your day. Some toothaches are more bothersome than painful while others will cause you to think of nothing else except finding relief from the pain. To have a dental emergency means that you are in severe pain, are at risk of permanent damage if not addressed promptly, or you have sustained an injury  from a traumatic event. Toothaches can fall under the umbrella of a dental emergency but, depending on a few factors, can also be treated at your next non-urgent dental appointment.

When to make an appointment

While it is recommended to have a dentist appointment once a year if not every six months, a toothache can cause you to call your dentist in between appointments to deal with the issue. Your tooth may be highly sensitive to hot or cold liquids or you may have a dull throbbing in your tooth. Even if the pain is not severe,  go ahead and make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. You never know when the pain could suddenly increase. Getting to the root cause of the toothache is also essential for your oral health. If you are able to wait for the next available appointment with your dentist, then your toothache is not a dental emergency.

Soothing the toothache

A few ways to soothe an aching tooth to help you avoid having to rush to the dentist during after hours are:

  • Rinse with warm saltwater: Mix half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Rinse your mouth with this solution for 30 seconds, then spit it out. Saltwater can help reduce inflammation and ease pain.
  • Apply a cold compress: Place a cold pack or ice wrapped in a thin cloth on the affected area of your face. Apply it for 15 minutes at a time to help numb the area and reduce swelling.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Alternating between ibuprofen or acetaminophen at the recommended intervals of time can provide mor temporary relief from toothache pain. Follow the instructions on the packaging and consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

When it is an emergency

If the pain in your tooth can not be ignored or if you get no relief from taking painkillers, your toothache is considered a dental emergency. Other factors that can also signal that you’re in an emergency situation are if you have:

  • Swelling or facial trauma, which could indicate you have an infection or abscess
  • Bleeding or pus discharge coming from around the tooth
  • High fever
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Persistent pain

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should contact your dentist immediately. If you have a toothache from a traumatic event such as a car wreck, you should also seek medical help immediately. If you have facial swelling that affects your breathing, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.

If your toothache is constantly hurting for a couple of days or if you can not go about your day without taking painkillers, do not hesitate to contact your dentist. If you are unsure if your pain level qualifies for a dental emergency, you can give your specific symptoms to your dentist over the phone to determine if you can wait. For residents of St. Augustine, give Dental Remedies a call today.

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Healthcare has always been a passion of Dr. Shanta Singh’s. A lover of technology, education and fitness, Dr. Singh realized from an early age that her true calling lay in the field of dentistry.


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