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dentist explaining emergency dental procedure

7 Common Dental Emergencies

dentist explaining emergency dental procedure

You discover a problem with your mouth, but you don’t know if it’s serious enough to call your Arlington dentist about. The first tip is: when in doubt, make the call. The second tip is to see if your situation sounds like any of the common dental emergencies below, and, if so, make the call.

Whether you know you’re experiencing a dental emergency or are simply unsure whether you’re experiencing one or not, call our office at Ballston Dental Arts and have an emergency dentist in Arlington help you.

1. Tooth Damage

If one or more of your teeth get knocked out or become cracked, chipped or broken, you should schedule an appointment with a Arlington emergency dentist immediately. This can occur from an athletic injury, grinding your teeth, eating hard candy or biting into an apple or getting into an accident.

Whatever the cause, the damage can leave you in pain, which a dentist can help you alleviate. Then, your dentist will help protect the site and surrounding area from infection and ensure a successful dental restoration.

2. Crown or Filling Issues

If you find a crown or filling has broken, come loose or is missing, that is a sign of a dental emergency in the making. A broken, lost or loose filling or crown creates a point of vulnerability where bacteria, mucus and food debris can settle and, ultimately, form plaque and tartar. It exposes the tooth to potential irritation and infection, which can spread to the pulp or root of the tooh, the gums surrounding and supporting them, the other teeth nearby and, ultimately, the jawbone and connective tissue underlying them all. At the very least, ignoring a lost, broken or loose filling or crown can lead to reversible problems your dentist can clean and cure; at the worst, you could have permanent mouth damage, including loss of teeth, gums and bone.

Avoid lasting damage to your mouth. Don’t ignore signs of potential problems when they occur. Contact your dentist in Arlington if you have a loose, broken or lost crown or filling or any other sign of a possible dental emergency.

3. Bleeding Gums

If you have early-stage gum disease, or gingivitis, your gums could bleed somewhat easily when you brush your teeth or floss. If this bleeding goes away within 15 minutes, however, it doesn’t necessarily indicate a dental emergency. That’s because you can usually eliminate gingivitis and reverse its effects on your own with an amped-up daily oral care routine. Contact our dental office for suggestions on how to do this. For good measure, it can also help to schedule an appointment for a cleaning with us at Ballston Dental Arts at your earliest convenience.

Another possible cause of persistent gum bleeding is sudden impact to the mouth, such as through a sports injury or a fall; still another is an exposed site of a recent tooth extraction.

In these cases, again, as long as the gum bleeding subsides within 15 minutes, you’re fine; but, if it lasts longer, seek emergency dental care at once.

Having said all that, if your gums don’t stop bleeding after 15 minutes, then that is a sign of a dental emergency, and you should contact an emergency dentist in Arlington right away.

4. Dry Sockets

When a dentist extracts a tooth, a blood clot forms over the extraction site in order to protect the nerves and bone while it heals. Without this blood clot, the exposed area dries out considerably, creating what’s called a dry socket.

These dry sockets create places for bacteria to build up and cause irritation, swelling, and infection. This infection can then spread to the gums and other teeth.

Dry sockets typically heal themselves within a couple of weeks. But, during that time, the pain they cause can be excruciating and impair your ability to perform your normal daily activities. That’s why you should see your Arlington dentist the moment a blood clot over an extraction site gets dislodged or if no blood clot ever forms there at all.

5. Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth occurs when the pulp of a tooth becomes infected. Without prompt attention, this infection can spread to the other teeth as well as to the gums and, ultimately, the bone and connective tissue supporting them.

An abscessed tooth is a common result of failing to treat a cavity in enough time. This allows the bacteria responsible for the cavity and contained inside it to spread to the tooth’s pulp. This causes inflammation within the tooth, which can be quite painful. Other abscessed tooth symptoms include a bad flavor in the mouth and intense tooth sensitivity, particularly to intense heat or cold.

6. An Object Stuck Between Your Teeth

Sometimes, you’ll get an object caught between your teeth that you remove on your own through simple brushing and flossing (and possibly using a soft interdental device and/or a mouth rinse as well.) But, if you can’t, you should have an emergency dentist remove it immediately. Otherwise, it can quickly become infected–an infection that can then quickly spread to the surrounding teeth and gums.

7. Cavities

You may not think of a cavity as a dental emergency, but think of this: the longer you go without getting that cavity filled or the tooth removed (if necessary,) the longer you expose yourself to infection in that area. And, as you’ve read throughout this article, infections in one part of the mouth can quickly spread to other parts of the mouth–and the body as a whole.

Other risks of not having a dentist take care of a cavity right away include the potential for a tooth fracture or abscess or gum disease.

Call us at Ballston Dental Arts if you think you may have a cavity, especially if your tooth is sensitive or you’re in pain.

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900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

(703) 291-3111