8 Alarming Signs You Need to See a Dentist ASAP

Seeing a dentist regularly is important for your oral health, but there are times when you may need to see an emergency dental professional. Ignoring dental emergencies can lead to serious consequences that will affect the rest of your body.

It can be difficult to determine if an issue is an actual dental emergency or if you can wait a few days. Below are some common signs that it’s time to see a dentist ASAP:

1. You Have a Toothache

A toothache is one of the most common dental emergencies and it’s also a surefire sign that you need to see a dentist post-haste. If your toothache is mild and short-lived, you can probably wait to call your dentist until the next day. However, if your toothache is severe and persistent, it could be a warning sign of a serious problem, such as an abscessed tooth or gum infection, that requires immediate treatment.

Bleeding from the mouth is another red flag that should not be ignored and should prompt you to visit an emergency dentist near you, just like going to the Noblesville area dentists if you are near there. This could be due to trauma, injury, or gum disease, and left untreated, bleeding in the mouth can lead to serious complications.

Lastly, pus in the mouth is another sign of an infection that needs to be addressed right away. This can be a painful, life-threatening situation if left untreated because bacteria from the abscessed tooth can spread to the brain and cause sepsis. Fortunately, most dentists offer emergency services, and some even have instructions on their voicemails regarding what to do in a dental emergency.

2. You Have Cracks or Fractures in Your Teeth

Cracks or fractures in your teeth aren’t uncommon, especially as you age. They can be caused by chewing on hard foods, teeth grinding and clenching habits, or trauma and injury. Cracks and fractures can vary in severity and symptoms, but they are all serious and need to be addressed right away. Some common signs include pain that comes and goes, sensitivity to hot or cold, and tenderness when biting or chewing.

There are several types of tooth cracks, including craze lines and fractured cusps. Craze lines are tiny cracks that only affect the enamel and don’t cause pain, while a cracked cusp occurs when a piece of the chewing surface breaks off, most commonly around a dental filling. Fractures can also occur due to an uneven bite or from damaging habits such as ice chewing, biting nails, or using teeth to open packages.

Vertical root fractures can be the most serious, and while they’re a sign that a tooth is deteriorating, prompt treatment can save it. If the crack is so extensive that it reaches your gum line, however, the tooth may need to be extracted.

3. You Have Infections

Infections in your mouth can be serious, especially if they are not treated quickly. These infections can be in the gums (periodontitis), teeth, lips, cheeks, tongue, or within and below your teeth (endodontic). It is very important to visit your dentist regularly for a cleaning and checkup so they can catch issues like this in the early stages.

Persistent bad breath is a sign that there is an infection somewhere in your mouth, whether it be gum disease or tooth decay. Infections that go untreated may also lead to a dental abscess, where bacteria can move from the inside of the tooth to the bone and tissue around it. A dental abscess cannot heal on its own and needs to be treated with a root canal or tooth extraction.

Bacterial infections can be caused by many organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Symptoms vary depending on the location and severity of the infection, but can include fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and more. Typically, bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics which kill or stop bacteria from growing.

4. You Have Gum Disease

When gum disease first develops, it usually doesn’t cause any pain. That’s why it can go unnoticed for so long. The most common symptom is bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. This is a sign of gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. You should see a dentist or oral health professional for a cleaning as soon as possible if you have this symptom.

If you don’t get your gum disease treated, it can progress to periodontitis. This is a more severe form of gum disease that affects more tissues that support your teeth and hold them in place. It causes loose teeth, bad breath and tooth loss. Getting your gingivitis treated can prevent this from happening.

Practicing good oral hygiene, seeing your dentist regularly for a cleaning and using antimicrobial mouthwash can help treat gum disease. These products will remove plaque and tartar, reducing the bacteria that can lead to gum disease. You should also eat a well-balanced diet and avoid smoking or chewing tobacco. These habits can also reduce your risk of other health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

5. You Have Bruxism

A sore jaw or a headache when you wake up is often a sign of teeth clenching or grinding. It’s called bruxism, and it can be harmful to your teeth and the surrounding tissues. It can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and cause more serious problems in the future.

Bruxism is often caused by stress or tension, so reducing your stress levels may help. You can also try sleeping with a mouth guard to help prevent nighttime teeth clenching and to protect your mouth. A splint or bite guard, which can be custom-made, will separate your teeth and reduce the pressure on them.

Bruxism can sometimes be treated by a dentist or your primary care doctor. They can suggest ways to relieve your symptoms and may refer you to a sleep specialist for further testing.

6. You Have a Mouth Injury

Uncontrolled bleeding from the mouth or gums is a serious dental emergency. It can be caused by a range of things, including trauma or an injury to the teeth, gums, or jaw. If left untreated, it can lead to infections and other serious complications.

Adults may experience loose or wiggly teeth as a result of years of wear and tear, but it can also be a sign of an infection, a tooth root fracture, or nerve damage. A dentist should evaluate the condition of the teeth to determine what treatment is needed.

Pus collection in a spot in the mouth should be evaluated as a dental emergency as well. This is a sign of an abscessed tooth and, if not treated, can spread bacteria to the brain and other parts of the body, which can be fatal.

Anyone who has a mouth sore that does not disappear within two weeks should schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. A mouth sore that does not go away could indicate that there is a cancerous tumor in the mouth.

7. You Have a Headache

A headache that’s so severe it interferes with your work or everyday activities is a sign you need to see your dentist ASAP. If you have a headache with slurred speech, a change in vision, difficulty moving your arms or legs, nausea, confusion, or neck pain, call 911 immediately.

A chronic headache that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter pain relievers could be caused by a misaligned bite or nerve or muscle tension in the jaw. These problems can be treated with occlusal splints, a mouth guard, or surgery.

Any injury that causes unstoppable bleeding, severe pain or broken facial bones is considered a dental emergency and should be seen as soon as possible to avoid further damage or loss of the tooth. It’s also important to call your dentist for further instructions before trying to remove a tooth yourself. If you have a knocked out tooth, make sure to retrieve it, rinse it off gently and place it back in its socket with a small amount of milk or saltwater (if there is no milk available) or a product like Save-a-Tooth(r). Never force it in or chew on it.

8. You Have a Salivary Glands Infection

Your salivary glands work hard to wash away food particles, reduce bacteria in the mouth, and force bad bacteria out of the body. When these glands get infected, it can cause pain and swelling. The three pairs of salivary glands are located in front of your ears (parotid), under the tongue (sublingual) and under the chin (submandibular).

Most often, salivary gland infections occur when one of the ducts into the mouth becomes blocked. This most commonly happens because of salivary stones, which are small buildups of crystallized saliva deposits. Infections from these blockages are called sialadenitis. Sialadenitis causes a painful lump to form in the affected gland, and foul-tasting pus drains from the lump. Other types of salivary gland infection include a cyst, which develops in the parotid gland and enlarges both sides of the face.

When you have salivary gland swelling, a doctor can identify the problem by squeezing the gland or duct to withdraw fluid. They can also use a new technique that allows them to insert a small viewing tube into the salivary glands and ducts to see what is happening inside. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics, drain a fluid buildup and/or remove a salivary gland cyst or tumor.