When you come down with a toothache late at night or on the weekend, it can be difficult to decide whether you should go to the emergency dentist or just wait it out for a little while until your regular dentist is available. Many toothaches can wait a few days to be treated without any terrible consequences, but there are situations in which more urgent treatment is wise. To decide whether or not you need emergency treatment, ask yourself these questions:
Do you have a fever?
Toothaches are usually caused by an infection in the tooth root. As long as the infection stays isolated within the tooth, it poses a minimal threat to your overall health. But if the infection spreads outside of your tooth root and into tissues like your sinuses, brain, or blood, it can prove very dangerous and deadly. One indication that the infection is beginning to spread—or may do so soon—is a fever. Use a thermometer to take your temperature, and if it is above 100.4 degrees F, contact an emergency dentist. You should also contact the emergency dentist if you start experiencing chills or cold sweats, as these are signs of a fever and that the infection may be spreading.
What is your pain level?
Toothaches range in painfulness. Some are just a dull ache while others have a stinging, searing quality. If your pain is not so pronounced that it interferes with your ability to complete your normal life tasks, you can probably wait until your general dentist is available to treat it. If the pain is more severe, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever to manage it. If this does not help and the pain is making it hard for you to do anything but cry or wince, call the emergency dentist.
Can you eat and drink?
While you likely won't be able to eat pretzels or carrots without pain, can you at least eat soft foods like yogurt and pasta without too much suffering? If even soft foods and beverages prove too painful to consume, this is a sign that you should call the emergency dentist. Spending a day or more without sustenance while waiting for your general dentist would be a mistake, as this could weaken your body and make it harder to heal from the infection that's causing your toothache.
If you have a toothache, you should certainly have it treated promptly. In most cases, "promptly" can be taken to mean "within a few days." But if you can't eat or drink at all, you're in terrible pain, or you have a fever, "promptly" means "immediately." For emergency dental care, check with companies like Family Dentistry Of Brick, PA.