Serious pain can be upsetting, and even scary. When it comes to a toothache, though, it can be tough to tell what’s severe and what’s not. How do you know if your toothache is an emergency? And does it mean you have to have the painful tooth extracted?

The experienced and skilled providers at EZ Dental Clinic in Bellevue, Washington, understand the worry and fear that a severe toothache can cause. We offer emergency dental services and, if necessary, extractions. In this post, we address when a toothache is an emergency and whether it means you need to have it extracted.

Defining severe

Each of your teeth has a layer of enamel, which is very hard and durable, over a layer of softer dentin, which surrounds and protects the pulpy center of your tooth. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves — and as you know if you’ve had a bad toothache, those nerves are some of the most sensitive in your body.

If you develop an infection in the pulp of your tooth, the dental nerves can cause severe pain. It may come and go, may be sharp, throbbing, or continuous, or may occur only with pressure from chewing or sleeping on that side of your face.

A severe toothache is commonly accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • Gum redness and swelling around the affected tooth
  • A low-grade fever or mild headache
  • A noticeable mouth odor that isn’t normal bad breath
  • Foul-tasting drainage from the affected tooth

One sure sign that you’re experiencing a dental emergency is if you have problems breathing or swallowing. If that happens, you need immediate care.

The symptoms listed above, as well as difficulty breathing or swallowing, could mean that you have an abscessed tooth with an infection that’s begun to spread to other tissues.

Why it hurts

There are lots of potential causes for a severe toothache, and most of them require professional care. Some of the common causes we see at EZ Dental Clinic include:

  • A fracture or crack in your tooth
  • A damaged filling
  • Tooth grinding (bruxism) that has damaged your enamel
  • Tooth decay that’s reached the pulp
  • An abscess, or infection in the pulp of your tooth
  • Periodontal disease, which causes inflamed gums

An impacted wisdom tooth that’s partially broken through your gums can also cause severe pain. One of the most common types of tooth extractions is a wisdom tooth extraction.

When to call us

Whether it’s a sign of deep decay, a loose filling, cracked enamel, or food particles stuck below the gum line, a severe toothache always warrants a trip to our office because:

  • There’s a high likelihood you have an infection when you have a severe toothache
  • A lingering infection can spread to your body and cause life-threatening sepsis
  • An abscess doesn’t go away on its own; you need medication
  • Untreated dental infections can easily spread to deeper oral tissues

Coming to our office ASAP helps ensure you receive the prompt diagnosis and expert care you need to resolve the problem, end your dental pain, and protect your long-term oral health. We can let you know if your damaged tooth requires an extraction or some other treatment, such as a root canal that can save your tooth.

Don’t take a chance with possible repercussions due to a severe toothache. Call EZ Dental Clinic right away and schedule your appointment for prompt, compassionate care.

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