A dental emergency can happen to anyone, anytime for a number of reasons. An emergency tooth extraction may be necessary in the event of dental trauma, decay, or severe infection, especially when there is an infection located around the root of the tooth. It’s important to be aware, informed, and prepared when it comes to all that goes into a tooth extraction. Proper preparation can mean the difference between a traumatic incident that’s surrounded by chaos and financial burden, and a difficult situation that is handled in an efficient and effective manner.
Why Are Emergency Tooth Extractions Needed?
Most dental practitioners would prefer to save a natural tooth whenever possible; however, there are times when an emergency tooth extraction is necessary. The reasons for an emergency tooth extraction can include bleeding that won’t stop, a loose permanent tooth, swelling, or a severe toothache. Experiencing these symptoms means it’s time to go to the emergency room to be evaluated for an emergency tooth extraction. Certain situations can warrant a tooth extraction, so it’s important to know what to look for when it comes to your oral health in order to make the right decision about seeking help.
There are many ways you can experience an unexpected trauma to a tooth (or teeth), including, but not exclusively, car and motorcycle accidents, damage to the jaw, a fall resulting in a fractured tooth, or a sports injury. Breaking a tooth in a way that is beyond repair with reconstructive dentistry will require an emergency tooth extraction.
Abscess Around the Root
A tooth abscess is a serious situation that can sometimes be life-threatening. A pocket of pus forms either at the tip of the root or along the side of the root due to bacterial infection, potentially resulting in extreme pain, swelling, fever, and infection that can spread throughout the body. If left untreated, a tooth abscess can cause severe health problems and even death - an extraction is often the best way to ensure as little damage as possible to a patient’s oral and overall health.
Poor oral hygiene, receding gums, and certain medications that cause dry mouth can all lead to an uptick in cavities. When tooth decay advances to the point of creating a hole in a tooth, it’s called a cavity. Severe cavities can cause so much damage that an emergency tooth extraction is required. In some cases, a root canal can alleviate the pain from decay while alternative methods are pursued to restore the tooth; however, when a root canal will not resolve the issue, a tooth extraction will likely be required in order to prevent further damage.
If teeth are overly crowded, an emergency extraction may be necessary. If a tooth doesn’t have room to come in, is improperly positioned so that it doesn’t erupt through the gum line, or comes in at an angle that is detrimental to other teeth, drastic measures must be taken to relieve pressure and pain created by the tooth in question. An emergency extraction can provide extra space for other teeth to be properly aligned as well as lessen the risk for future problems due to overcrowding and impacted teeth.
Emergency Wisdom Tooth Extractions
An emergency wisdom tooth extraction is quite common among older teenagers and adults alike. Wisdom teeth are actually your third-year molars that typically come in during the late teens and early twenties. Some people may have enough space for them to come in properly without causing any pain or damage to other teeth. However, in many cases, the wisdom teeth may be impacted (never erupting through the surface of the gums) and grow in at an angle. This can not only cause extreme pain, but it can lead to infection and damage to other teeth – a situation that requires an emergency wisdom tooth extraction.
While important and often medically necessary, emergency wisdom tooth extractions can be very painful and carry certain risks associated with the procedure.
Dry socket can happen with any tooth extraction but is most often associated with wisdom teeth removal. During the normal healing process, a blood clot should form at the removal site after tooth extraction. The clot protects the underlying bone and nerves, ensuring proper healing. When a clot fails to form or is dislodged from the extraction site, it’s called dry socket – the bone and nerves are left exposed, and a gaping hole is left that can easily fill with food or other debris. Dry socket is quite painful and can lead to infection; over-the-counter medication is usually inadequate to treat the pain, so it’s best to see your oral surgeon if you suspect you have dry socket.
Any surgical procedure carries the risk of infection, and an emergency wisdom tooth removal is no different. Food and debris can easily be trapped at the extraction site, leading to an infection that can affect not only your oral health but your overall health and well-being.
In an emergency wisdom tooth extraction, there is always a risk of damage to other teeth, the jawbone, and the sinuses. Because of the delicate nature of a tooth extraction and the sometimes-precarious placement of the tooth in question, it can be extremely difficult to remove the tooth without unintentionally damaging other teeth, nerves, or other areas of the mouth and jaw.
Avoiding Emergency Tooth Extractions
Some emergency dental extractions simply cannot be avoided; for example, a fractured tooth as a result of a car accident must be addressed immediately and cannot be prevented. However, there are many steps you can take to avoid tooth extractions that are not the result of an unanticipated trauma.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
The importance of good oral hygiene cannot be overstated. Taking care of your teeth and gums will help avoid unnecessary infection and disease that could result in an emergency tooth extraction. Brushing regularly and flossing are preventive measures that can be taken to avoid the pain, cost, and inconvenience of a tooth extraction at a later time.
Keep Up with Routine Dental Visits
Seeing your dentist regularly can go a long way in avoiding emergency tooth extractions. Your dentist knows just what to look for during a checkup to ensure there aren’t any issues that could cause a major problem down the road if left unchecked. Early treatment can be the difference between an inconvenience and a major crisis that would require the complete removal of a tooth.
Use Protective Gear in Sports
If you are involved in high-contact sports that involve the risk of dental trauma, be sure to wear a protective mouthguard. Taking this simple step can save you from a lot of pain and unnecessary expense in the long run.
How to Pay for Emergency Dental Extractions
When it comes to an emergency tooth extraction, not having insurance can be a problem. In the middle of a traumatic and painful situation, particularly one that might require removing a permanent tooth, the last thing you want to think about is how to pay for what you need to be done in order to restore oral health.
The amount of time and cost of an extraction largely depends on the specifics of each individual situation; there is not only the cost of the extraction itself but also the X-rays, anesthesia, and other costs associated with all that goes into the surgery. Some extractions are simple and don’t take long at all, while others can be extremely complicated and invasive, requiring more time and effort on the part of the oral surgeon.
If you don’t have dental insurance, you may be able to arrange a discount if you’re able to pay cash in full as opposed to financing it directly through the provider or hospital. If you don’t have enough cash to pay in full, sometimes a payment plan can be arranged so you can just pay a specific amount monthly directly to the provider of the service. You may also be able to use a credit card for payment, giving yourself the freedom to pay the balance down over time. Click here to read about seeing a dentist without insurance.
The truth is, dental insurance is by far the best way to pay for emergency dental extractions, so it’s important to have a plan in place that ensures you and your family are covered in the event you face a situation that requires immediate removal of a permanent tooth. Waiting until you’re in the middle of a crisis can result in unnecessary pain and suffering, both physically and psychologically. If you’re uninsured, take the first steps to be prepared for any dental emergency that may come your way - check out Smile Generation for dental plans and financial solutions to meet your specific needs. You’ll find a wealth of information on insurance and providers in your area to ensure you are prepared in the event that you or a loved one requires an emergency extraction or dental treatment.
Dentist Near Me for Emergencies
The Smile Generation has a large number of trusted dentists in your area ready and prepared to help you with your dental emergency, use our Find a Dentist tool to find a dentist near me that can help with tooth extractions and any other dental emergency.