If you experience either of the following dental issues, you should book an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. Read on to find out more.
A cracked tooth
Whilst teeth are generally quite robust, they can weaken if their hard outer layer (known as the enamel) wears away as a result of plaque-induced erosion.
A tooth which has lost some or all of its enamel is far more likely to crack when exposed to pressure. As such, if your tooth enamel has worn away and you proceed to bite down on a very hard piece of food or chew on a piece of ice, one or more of your teeth could crack.
There are two reasons why it is important to seek immediate treatment if your tooth cracks in this manner. Firstly, if you fail to have the crack repaired promptly, there is a risk that the dentist may eventually have to extract the whole tooth and replace it with an implant or a denture.
This is most likely to happen if the crack runs from the tip of the tooth down to the root, as when the root is fractured, the pulp that lies inside it (which holds all of the tooth's blood vessels and nerves), can end up being damaged.
When this damage is not dealt with quickly, the living tissues in the pulp can die. In this situation, the entire tooth usually needs to be removed.
Secondly, a cracked tooth which goes untreated for too long is very likely to become infected. The reason for this is that the opening created by the crack can result in pathogens within the mouth entering the tooth's root canal system and causing inflammation, which then leads to an infection. If this happens, your dentist may have to perform root canal therapy in order to save your tooth. You may also have to take antibiotics.
Severe swelling and pain around a tooth
If you start to experience very intense pain and severe swelling in and around a single tooth, you should book an emergency appointment with your dentist immediately.
The reason for this is that these two symptoms are often a sign that an abscess has developed on or inside the tooth. An abscess is a very serious type of oral infection which results in a sac of bacteria-filled pus growing either along the gum line beside a specific tooth or inside a tooth's root canal system.
An abscess needs to be drained, disinfected and treated with a course of antibiotics as soon as it develops. If you wait to go to your dentist, not only will the pain worsen (as the abscess will continue to grow and inflame your tooth and gums) but the infection could also spread to other areas. This could cause irreversible damage to the nervous, muscular and connective tissues of your face.