Dental pain can certainly be frustrating, but lack of time or finances can contribute to a delayed visit to the dentist. Although pain is a reliable warning sign that attention is needed, it can be tricky to recognize a true emergent dental situation. Thankfully, there are a number of characteristics that help distinguish an aggravating dental issue from an actual dental emergency.

Broken or Missing Teeth: Any teeth that sustain fractures or chipping need to be examined and treated by a dental professional. Although physically and cosmetically challenging to patients, a simple chipped tooth typically doesn’t warrant an emergency visit to the dentist. It’s important to examine the tooth to determine the extent of the injury. Significant chunks of missing tooth, missing or fractured teeth, or severe nerve pain should be treated immediately to prevent further damage or infection.

Tissue Damage: All forms of damage to delicate mouth tissue should be evaluated right away. Such injuries as deep wounds, tears of the mouth lining or the tongue, or pain in the face are serious symptoms that require prompt treatment. Patients should avoid taking any medicine before treatment, particularly the pain relievers naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, since these affect blood flow and can cause excessive bleeding.

Notable Warning Signs: Pain is definitely a sign that symptoms need to be checked out as soon as possible, but when pain is excruciating, it’s crucial to get medical help immediately. Abscesses could very well require a swift root canal procedure, and the sooner the treatment begins, the better the prognosis.

A Final Word of Advice: When faced with the choice of whether or not emergency dental care is needed, it’s essential to use good common sense. If teeth are fractured or missing altogether, or if pain is unbearable, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and get help right away. Remember that, as the timeless saying affirms, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Indeed, to avoid further damage to an individual’s smile and overall oral health, prompt attention is necessary when pain and damage are significant.