Some dental issues need immediate attention–a knocked-out tooth, for example. Other times, it’s not exactly clear if the condition is a dental emergency.
Is unexplained pain or swelling a dental emergency?
Such is the case with painful swelling in the gums. Should you ignore it? Will it go away?
Let’s describe the possible causes of swollen gums.
It might be due to gingivitis.
Gingivitis can result in swollen gums. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. If your swollen gums are caused by gingivitis, they may bleed easily. If this oral condition is not addressed it can lead to periodontitis. With this condition, your gums become loose and separate from the teeth. If plaque multiplies in the pockets around the teeth, the gum will start pulling away. It eventually becomes infected. The infection can spread to the bone supporting the tooth.
If you let gum disease go untreated, you can lose teeth that are cavity-free!
The progression of gingivitis to tooth loss goes like this:
- Plaque build-up irritates gums
- Irritated gums pull back from the tooth
- Bacteria multiply in the spaces between the gum and tooth
- The bone holding the tooth is eaten by the bacteria
- Say goodbye to the tooth
What if the swelling is not due to gingivitis?
Allergies, infections, and the common cold can irritate gums. When sinus tissues become inflamed and infected, it can influence the teeth and gums.
Is a mouth sore causing the swelling?
A mouth sore can cause swelling and pain. Mouth sores have various causes including an infection or virus. White patches in the mouth can indicate thrush (an oral yeast infection). All of these conditions can be treated—but you need to see your dentist. An urgent care dentist is a great choice for a painful mouth sore because they have extended hours. Some offer weekend appointments.
It could be an abscess.
Swollen gums can also be caused by an abscess. An abscess is an infected pocket of pus in a tooth and/or the surrounding bone and tissue. The most frequent type of oral abscess begins in the pulp of the tooth and is generally caused by tooth decay. If ignored, this can destroy the bone and eventually cause a lot of pain.
Are these problems considered dental emergencies?
Early-stage gingivitis is not a dental emergency. A mouth sore may or may not be a dental emergency. A tooth abscess most definitely is a dental emergency.
Regardless of the issue, at Jeff Gray DDS – Sedation & Cosmetic Dentistry, we can treat all of these conditions at your convenience. Give us a call.
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