Dental emergencies are extremely common in America. Recent surveys indicated as much as 22 percent of the general population admit to severe oral pain in the last six months. School age children miss more than 1.5 million school days annually in America due to acute dental problems. While dental emergencies cannot be defined as easily as regular medical emergencies and are not generally considered life threatening, dental emergencies whether they involve pain or just cosmetics can be debilitating.
Unfortunately, the safest way to avoid a dental emergency is to not get one in the first place. Obviously things happen in life and sometimes a toothache in unavoidable, but most patients wait too long and a preventable dental problem escalates into a major dental emergency and often a major dental procedure.
So how do you know when you should see a dentist? What are the early warnings signs so you nip things in the bud before they escalate to major problems?
- Floss regularly. I know you’ve heard it before, but I’m not telling you to floss to keep your teeth clean (you already KNOW that). If you floss regularly you will notice small cavities or other problems between the teeth sooner. A small cavity is MUCH easier to fix than a big one – which might require an extraction and dental implant. If you floss and feel a small pain, twinge, or anything else weird or out of the ordinary, give us a call and we can probably prevent the problem from getting any worse.
- Look in the mirror. Most people are so used to brushing their teeth that they don’t watch themselves do it anymore. But spending a few minutes before or after you brush to look in the mirror can prevent a lot of problems. Pull your lips back and check along the gum line. Are there any bumps? Any discoloration? Lesions? All of those things could mean major problems forming under the gumline. And most of those early warning signs can prevent major dental work – and a major toothache – later.
- Pay attention when you eat. Pain or twinges in your mouth while eating are often a sign of bigger problems. If you eat sugar and have some pain, you might be getting a cavity (did you know many cavities, when treated early, don’t even need to be drilled out? Catch them early to save yourselves the whir of the drill!). Pain when eating hot or colds things? Your gums could be having an issue or maybe a cavity. Hurts when you chew on one side? Maybe an abscess, infection, cavity, cracked tooth… any number of things.
- Do your teeth hurt when you wake up in the morning? This is a classic sign of bruxism – or grinding your teeth. Why does it matter? If you grind at night, you are at risk for TMJ problems, cavities, cracked teeth, and more. All of which can be avoided with a simple bit guard if caught early. If your mouth hurts when you wake up, call and schedule an appointment.
90% of dental emergencies can be avoided by taking the simple precautions above. Regular visits to the dentist don’t have to be scary or painful – they can prevent scary and painful visits later, in fact. So give us a call. Check for the early warning signs, and prevent future dental emergencies.
And if you do have an emergency, come visit our holistic dental practice in Houston – we are happy to help keep your mouth beautiful and healthy – and out of pain!