One morning you wake up and immediately notice unbearable pain in one of your teeth. Flossing and rinsing doesn’t seem to help, and looking in the mirror you’ve noticed that your gums have become swollen. All the signs are pointing to an infection that could put your smile and your overall health in danger. Your first instinct might be to call an emergency room; after all, that’s what you’re supposed to do if you have any kind of severe discomfort. But is that really the case for tooth pain? Read on to learn why you might need to call an endodontist instead of a hospital when it comes to certain emergencies.
Why is Tooth Pain an Emergency?
Chronic, serious pain that lasts longer than two days usually means your tooth has become infected. This is normally the ultimate result of poor oral hygiene causing tooth decay or gum disease, although it could also occur if your tooth is fractured and isn’t repaired quickly.
Unfortunately, an infected tooth is unable to heal itself, meaning you’ll continue to experience pain until all of the nerves it contains are destroyed. Eventually, the infection could spread and destroy the nearby bone tissue, eventually causing you to lose the tooth altogether. There’s even a chance that harmful bacteria could reach other parts of your body and cause further health problems. The longer the infection lasts, the higher the risk to your smile and the rest of your body becomes.
Who Should You Call If Your Tooth is Infected?
Sometimes the swelling that accompanies an infection is so pronounced that it becomes harder to breathe or swallow. In this type of situation, you should call 911 or the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.
Barring such extreme circumstances that pose an immediate threat to your life, however, it’s generally better to call an endodontist for a toothache. Endodontists specialize in treating dental pulp (the soft tissue inside your tooth where an infection is usually centered), and they can perform root canal therapy to stop your pain and prevent further dental damage. The doctors in an emergency room won’t have the same training and likely won’t be able to perform the necessary procedures to truly treat your toothache. They might give you an antibiotic, but that will provide temporary relief from your symptoms at best. Furthermore, visiting an emergency room is generally much more costly than visiting the endodontist even if they don’t effectively treat your condition.
It can be easy to panic when sudden, severe tooth pain occurs, but it’s important to keep a calm head. Take note of your symptoms so that you can figure out who to call to stop the discomfort and keep your smile intact.
About the Author
Dr. Deborah Bishop is a dedicated endodontic specialist in Huntsville who utilizes the latest tools and techniques help her patients; in fact, she was the first endodontist in Alabama to use a surgical operating microscope. In the past, she has served as the president of the Alabama Association of Endodontists. If you’re looking for a way to stop tooth pain, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Bishop by visiting her website or calling (256) 882-5161.