Emergency Dental

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Symptom: Momentary sensitivity to hot or cold foods.

Possible problem: If this discomfort lasts only moments, sensitivity to hot and cold foods generally does not signal a serious problem. The sensitivity may be caused by a small decay, a loose filling or by minimal gum recession that exposes small areas of the root surface.

What to do: Try using toothpastes made for sensitive teeth. Brush up and down with a soft brush; brushing sideways wears away exposed root surfaces. If this is unsuccessful after several days, see your general dentist.


Symptom: Sensitivity to hot or cold foods after dental treatment.

Possible problem: Dental work may inflame the pulp inside the tooth causing temporary sensitivity.

What to do: Wait two to four weeks. If the pain persists or worsens, see your general dentist.


Symptom: Sharp pain when biting down on food.

Possible problem: There are several possible causes of this type of pain: decay, a loose filling or crack in the tooth. There may also be damage to the pulp tissue inside the tooth.

What to do: See a dentist for evaluation. If the problem is pulp tissue damage, your dentist may send you to an endodontist. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in pulp-related procedures. Your endodontist will perform a procedure that cleans out the damaged pulp and fills and seals the remaining space. This procedure is commonly called a root canal.


Symptom: Lingering pain, typically lasting more than 30 seconds, after eating hot or cold foods.

Possible problem: This probably means the pulp has been irreversibly damaged by deep decay or physical trauma.

What to do: See your dentist or endodontist to save the tooth with root canal treatment.


Symptom: Constant and severe pain and pressure, swelling of gum and sensitivity to touch.

Possible problem: A tooth may have become abscessed, causing an infection in the surrounding tissue and bone.

What to do: See your endodontist for evaluation and treatment to relieve the pain and save the tooth. Take over-the-counter medications until you see the endodontist.


Symptom: Dull ache and pressure in upper teeth and jaw.

Possible problem: Grinding of teeth, a condition known as bruxism, can cause this type of ache. The pain of a sinus headache may also be felt in the face and teeth. 

What to do: For bruxism, consult your dentist. For sinus headache, try over-the-counter medication. If pain is severe and chronic, see your endodontist or physician for evaluation.

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