It’s easy to guess that you need to see an emergency dentist when you have a tooth that’s cracked or in severe pain, but in other cases, it’s not always clear whether your oral health issue rises to the level of an emergency or not. One problem that leaves many patients feeling unsure about the best way to handle it is facial swelling. Is it the kind of problem you need to bring to a dentist’s attention immediately? Or can you afford to wait to see if it gets better on its own? Here’s what you need to know about dealing with this particular oral health issue.
The first thing you’ll probably want to know is what caused your facial swelling in the first place. One common cause is an abscessed tooth, which is the result of a dental infection that was left untreated for too long. Bacteria can enter your tooth and attack the pulp (the collection of nerves and blood vessels responsible for keeping the tooth alive) to cause a lot of pain. The infection can eventually reach beyond the roots of the tooth, resulting in a pocket of pus known as an abscess. With time, the infection will continue to spread to other parts of the body and could even become a life-threatening problem.
Facial swelling can be associated with other types of infections as well, such as that of the salivary gland or the nasal cavities. An emergency dentist can narrow down the nature of the infection and help you figure out what steps need to be taken for treatment.
If the swelling appears to be mild or only happens every once in a while, an emergency appointment may not be necessary. But if the swelling lasts for a long time and/or becomes more severe, you should see your dentist right away. A potential infection should never be ignored for too long, and there’s no need to force yourself to live with the pain when an emergency visit could help you find lasting relief.
Your dentist will examine your face and mouth, then take a number of X-rays to try and locate the problem. The treatment plan depends on the nature of the infection. An abscessed tooth, for example, may call for root canal therapy. For a salivary gland infection, you may receive an antibiotic, or a procedure to remove part of the glands might be recommended.
Never take facial swelling or pain lightly; if it’s a symptom of an infection, fast action could make a world of difference in protecting your overall health. Make sure that you have your emergency dentist’s number on hand so that you can get in touch with them immediately if the need arises.
Dr. John Russo has been serving in the Orlando community for almost 25 years. He is a member of the Florida Dental Association and regularly completes continuing education courses through the Florida Dental Convention and other avenues. He’s familiar with a wide range of dental emergencies, including facial swelling, and he can arrange a same-day emergency appointment for you to get you out of your pain. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Russo, visit his website or call (407) 470-1224.