Is your mouth or face swollen? You might be tempted to head to the emergency room, but that is probably not the best option to relieve your pain. When it comes to toothaches or dental injuries, an emergency dentist can typically provide more effective care than the local ER. Here’s a quick guide on when you should see an emergency dentist for facial swelling and what type of care you can expect to receive.
Potential Reasons for Facial Swelling
A person can experience swelling in the face for several reasons. Two of the most commons causes of facial swelling include:
- Abscessed tooth – This occurs when bacteria invades and infects the inner chamber of a tooth, known as the dental pulp. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and lead to serious, even life-threatening, complications.
- Salivary gland infection – These glands are located in the cheeks. Infected salivary glands can cause severe pain and swelling. Infections that spread from salivary glands to the deep tissues of the head and neck can be life-threatening.
When to Go to the Hospital
Injuries or traumas involving the face and mouth that require immediate medical attention include:
- Jaw fractures
- Jaw dislocations
- Serious cuts or lacerations
- Abscesses or infections that are so swollen they affect your ability to breath or swallow
In these very serious situations, do not wait to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Instead, seek professional medical care by calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room.
When to See an Emergency Dentist
Most local emergency room staff do not have the specialized knowledge or tools to treat dental issues. While they may be able to give you prescription pain medication, they likely won’t be able to treat the underlying issue. For this reason, if you experience major facial swelling that is accompanied by persistent and severe pain, you should immediately contact an emergency dentist.
Do not try to ignore the pain and hope it goes away on its own. As noted above, dental infections that go untreated can lead to major health complications.
How Your Dentist Provides Relief
During an emergency visit for facial swelling, your dentist will carefully examine your face, teeth, gums, and mouth. They make take dental X-rays to look for issues invisible to the naked eye.
If you have an abscessed tooth, your dentist may make a small cut into the abscess to let the pus drain out. Abscessed teeth can sometimes be treated with antibiotics or root canal therapy. In severe cases, dental extraction is often necessary.
If your facial swelling is due to a salivary gland infection, your treatment plan may vary. Your dentist may need to remove part of the glands, drain the abscess, or prescribe antibiotics.
Dental injuries and infections can happen when you least expect them. Now that you know when to turn to an emergency dentist for facial swelling, you will be able to get the care you need as quickly as possible.
About the Author
Dr. James Geer has over 40 years of experience treating all manner of oral health problems, including dental emergencies. He provides urgent dental care to his patients as quickly as possible whenever dental trauma or infection occurs. To learn more about when you should see an emergency dentist, visit Dr. Geer’s website or call 281-357-4337.