Pain is one of the reasons people go to the dentist. A painful tooth can be triggered by hot or cold food and drinks. Heavy biting or grinding may fracture a tooth and cause the tooth to hurt when you chew. Sometimes, when a filling falls out, you may have a throbbing ache.
Any injury to teeth or gums can be serious and should not be ignored. Injury can damage nerves or blood vessels. There is also a risk of getting an infection, which can become life threatening. If you ignore dental pain or dental injury, you're taking a chance. You should not delay getting treatment. Delays in treatment can be dangerous to your health. Getting injured teeth repaired and treated quickly is the best thing to do.
Today, dentists have many options for dealing with dental emergencies. Now you can benefit from advances in pain management and techniques to restore teeth. Teeth can be repaired with synthetic materials that are strong and look as good as your natural teeth. Your dentist has the training and skills to identify how serious the problem is, and he or she almost always can reduce or eliminate pain within a few minutes.
When To Call Your Dentist
If you're not sure if a dental problem is an emergency, dentists offer this advice: If it hurts, it's an emergency. This is because even injuries that seem small or superficial can affect the living tissues inside the teeth. Quick treatment improves the odds of saving injured or damaged teeth.
Even if you aren't in much pain, any structural damage to a tooth — from a sports injury, for example — should be considered an emergency. Chips or fractures can affect the living tissue inside the tooth, causing more problems in the future. Your dentist can prevent the damage from getting worse.
The same is true of a lost filling or crown. Even if you don't have any symptoms, the tooth has lost its support and it could easily become weaker. Pieces could break off or crumble, and you would need more extensive treatment. If you see your dentist right away, there's a good chance he or she will be able to repair the damage with minimal treatment.
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Reviewed by the faculty of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine