I’m a couple of months into my dental implant procedure. I noticed yesterday it started feeling different. When I pushed on the surrounding area it was sort of malleable. I left it alone and decided I’d call on Monday because we were going into the weekend. Today, though, my whole jaw is swollen and I can’t even eat. Is something seriously wrong?
It sounds like you’ve developed an infection at the dental implant site. Even worse, it sounds fast moving. Your jaw is now affected. Without treatment, this will keep spreading. If you think about how close your heart and brain are to your jaw, spreading to either of those can become life-threatening rather quickly.
Your implant dentist should have an after hours protocol for dental emergencies. This would definitely be considered one of those. Not only does an infection put you at risk, it puts your entire dental implant procedure at risk as well. The leading cause of dental implant failure is an infection.
If You Can’t Reach Your Dentist
If for some reason you can’t actually reach your dentist, I want you to do an internet search using the term “emergency dentist” or “dental emergency”. These are dentists who are willing to treat patients, such as yourself, when they can’t reach their dentist.
While some only treat during normal business hours, others would be willing to meet with you given the situation. Make sure they’ve placed dental implants themselves, however, and have good experience with that procedure. I wouldn’t want an inexperienced implant dentist to mess anything up.
In the absolute worst case scenario where you can’t find anyone, call your medical doctor. They won’t examine the implant site, but they will likely be willing to prescribe an antibiotic which should at least stave off the infection until you can get in to see your dentist on Monday.
I hate dentists. I hope you won’t be offended by that I just find it’s best to be honest up front. I have what is possibly a tooth infection. It hurts. So, if I’m going to suck it up and go in to see a dentist, I want to get as much work done as possible. What’s the most work I could get done in just one visit?
I’m sorry about your toothache. Your admission about dentists doesn’t offend me in the least. I also think it’s important for patients to be upfront about things. It helps me to know the best treatment options for them.
How much work can get done in one appointment varies so much from dentist to dentist it’s hard to give you an estimate. Plus, you didn’t mention what procedures you think you’ll need. A tooth infection will need a root canal treatment. However, I don’t know if you’re talking about a root canal on a front tooth or a molar. That also varies in time. Some dentists can do a molar in one hour, but most take up to one and a half to two hours.
Dentists who use dental sedation are usually able to get more work done per appointment. The reason for that is it’s easier on the patient. Dentists limit the patient’s time in the chair out of consideration for their comfort. Sedation keeps them comfortable for longer periods of time. You may even find it changes your outlook about dental care and start going more regularly.
Tooth Pain is a Dental Emergency
Please don’t put this off too long. Tooth pain is often a sign of a dental infection. I know it sounds hard to believe but people still die of tooth infections. The United States saw several deaths from from infected teeth in 2017.
The sooner you deal with it the better. It may be the tooth can be saved. If it gets too far along, it will end up needing to be extracted. That will require expensive tooth replacements, such as dental implants.
I have a new dentist due to my old dentist retiring. I went in for my normal checkup and he said I have two teeth which need to be extracted and replaced. Surely, if my teeth were that far along I would have needed an emergency dentist from the pain, don’t you think? Could this youngster be taking advantage of me?
I’ll be honest, it does sound suspicious to me. Surely if something were building up your old dentist would have caught it and warned you that it was something to keep an eye on. Though, every once in a while we’ll discover a patient who has something blow up on them so quickly it takes everyone by surprise and they end up with an emergency dental appointment. Usually, that’s one tooth, though, not two.
It wouldn’t hurt for you to get a second opinion. If it turns out he’s taking advantage, it’s time to switch dentists. If he’s actually correct and you had something develop that quickly it’s important you take care of it quickly too. You don’t want a dental emergency to turn into a medical emergency. Tooth infections can become life-threatening.
Dealing with Tooth Extractions
You’ll want to replace your teeth after they’re extracted. You have several options. The ideal replacement is a dental implant. This acts like your natural teeth, with a prosthetic root. The best thing about it is it protects you from losing bone structure in your jaw. It is pricey though.
If that’s out of your budget, there are dental bridges. They crown the adjacent teeth and suspend a false tooth between them.
The relationship between patient and dentist is a precious one and needs to be one of trust. I hope, whatever way this turns out, you’ll find that dentist.
I was putting up some food storage when one of my preserve jars fell and smacked me right in the mouth. I thought I was okay. My lipped swelled, but there didn’t to seem to be much more damage. But, when I woke up this morning, one of my front teeth seemed loose. I keep wiggling it to be sure. I’m pretty positive it’s loose. What do I do? Do I just let it heal, do I schedule an appointment, or does it matter and no matter what I do it’s going to come out?
First, stop wiggling it. Seriously. Back away from the tooth. There are rubbery ligaments that bond your teeth to your jawbone. If they’re stretched too much, they’ll snap. Once you’ve stopped messing with the tooth, I want you to schedule an emergency dental appointment.
Your dentist will try to stabilize the tooth. They’ll either put a splint on it or bond it to a neighbor tooth in the hopes it will heal itself up. If the pulp of the tooth is damaged, you’ll need a root canal treatment and possibly a crown, but your tooth will still be saved. You’re trying to avoid needing an extraction and tooth replacement.
How long it will take to heal (if it does), depends a lot on the amount of damage done. Teeth that can be repaired can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months.
While you’re waiting on your emergency appointment, be careful to baby the tooth. Only soft foods, and try to avoid using it to chew. The more you bite down on it the more damage you’ll do. It wouldn’t hurt to take some anti-inflammatory medicine to help with any swelling.
I have a dead tooth for years. It’s quite embarrassing, but my husband always made me feel beautiful anyway. He passed away a few months ago. I’ve been getting by on savings until now, but it’s not going to last much longer. I need to get a job, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to get one with this tooth. I went to a dentist and he said I needed a dental implant. I almost choked when I heard the cost. I don’t even have that much money, let alone have the ability to pay it out for one thing. Is there any other treatment?
Audrey C. – Delaware
I am very sorry for your loss. Few things are worse than losing your life companion, and it sounds like you had a great one. You’re right that appearance can affect your job prospects. It’s not fair that we’re judged by our appearance instead of our character and qualifications, but it is a fact of life we have to learn to deal with.
There are other ways to replace a tooth. I’m quite annoyed the dentist you went to didn’t mention them. In fact, he or she is under an ethical obligation to make sure you’re aware of all your treatment options.
My suggestion is you look into getting a dental crown or a dental bridge (if there is not enough bone structure left to support a crown).
A dental crown just fits over the damaged tooth. A bridge has a false tooth suspended between two crowns. Both of these are less expensive than a dental implant.
You can also get a dental flipper which is even cheaper, but I’d consider that one a last resort. They’re not as stable. But, it will function as a temporary measure until you have a job and can save up for a better treatment.