Child with a toothache holds her cheek

When Is a Toothache Considered an Emergency?

August 3, 2023 7:27 pm Published by

We understand that it can be hard to tell when a child is being truthful about the level of pain that they’re feeling. Does their constant complaining indicate a big problem? Or, can it wait until their next appointment? The answer may vary, but we encourage parents to listen closely when a child is complaining of a toothache. If they’re suffering from an untreated dental cavity, they need treatment sooner rather than later.

 

Our emergency pediatric dentist in Pleasanton can help you decide if your child’s toothache requires same-day treatment, or if it can wait until our next available appointment. During their visit, we may take X-rays and other diagnostic tests before treating tooth decay and repairing damage with tooth fillings or dental crowns.

When to Seek Same-Day Treatment for a Toothache

To determine if the pain is due to an urgent problem, you may need to do your own at-home examination. Look for these signs and symptoms, and if they’re present, call our office to get scheduled with our dental urgent care:

  • Breaks, chips, or cracks in the sensitive tooth
  • Pain that has lasted longer than a day
  • Pain that keeps them awake at night
  • They’ve visited the school nurse about their tooth pain
  • Bleeding, swollen, or sore gums
  • Food or objects stuck between teeth that cannot be removed with floss
  • Broken or lost crowns or fillings
  • Bumps and pus on the gums
  • Swelling in the gums or jaw
  • Extreme sensitivity to pressure, cold, or hot temperatures
  • Missing tooth that wasn’t ready to fall out

 

If left untreated, many of these conditions can lead to illness and permanent tooth damage. Yes, untreated cavities can cause permanent damage to adult teeth as well.

What to Look for In Your At-Home Examination

You’re not a dentist (most likely), so what are you really looking for?  How can you tell if what you’re seeing is a problem? If you’re this unsure, it won’t hurt to bring your child to our emergency dentist. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Still, here are some tips to assess for severe tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma:

  • Wash your hands and put on some rubber gloves when you reach into your child’s mouth.
  • Gently pull back the lips to examine the color of the gums, especially surrounding the problematic tooth. Are the gums bleeding, bruised, red, puffy, or bumpy? If so, this is an emergency.
  • Look for the tooth that’s causing the pain. Do you see any holes or divots in the surface? Is there any discoloration in the form of black, brown, or yellow spots?
  • How much of the tooth is lost or discolored? If it’s taking over the surface of the tooth, it’s probably safe to consider this an emergency.
  • Is there anything stuck between the teeth or in the gums? Is it hard, pointy, or a foreign object? Has the child attempted to remove it with floss or brushing? Stubborn and especially painful objects may constitute an emergency.

 

We can offer more guidance on what to look for when you call our office. We’d love to help you determine if it’s worthy of an emergency visit, or if we can get you on the schedule for the same week to address less concerning issues.

Visit Our Emergency Pediatric Dentist for Severe Toothaches

Untreated tooth decay is a serious issue, even if it hasn’t yet escalated into an emergency. Children can suffer academically, socially, and emotionally because of untreated cavities, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH). Don’t wait to get treatment. Visit Pleasanton Children’s Dentistry & Braces to get your child’s dental health back on track.

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This post was written by Jerry Agiliga

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Pleasanton Children’s Dentistry & Braces