Swollen Face? Make the Call to Your Emergency Dentist

There are a number of reasons why you may need the services of an emergency dentist, such as a broken or chipped tooth. However, you should also make an emergency appointment if you have a swollen face, particularly if it came on suddenly and is accompanied by a lot of pain. Here's why.

The cause

There can be several things causing a swollen face, including poor nutrition and trauma to the face (in which case, you should see your dentist to get x-rayed as soon as possible). However, a sudden swelling combined with sharp pain is a sign of an abscess in the tooth. This is a pocket of pus that occurs in the tooth as a result of bacterial infection.

Why is this an emergency?

An abscess can be extremely painful, and it can interfere with your everyday life; over-the-counter painkillers may not be enough to deal with it. It will not get better of its own accord, and left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body. This can cause sepsis and is potentially fatal. The abscess must be treated as soon as possible.

What can you do while waiting for the dentist?

Make sure that you describe your symptoms as accurately as possible so the dentist knows what they are dealing with and how urgently they need to treat you. When waiting for your appointment, try to sit upright rather than lying flat, even if you are in bed. And drink water to keep hydrated.

What will the dentist do?

If your dentist diagnoses an abscess, the first thing they will do is put you on a course of antibiotics. This needs to be done as soon as possible — the longer you wait, the greater the chance the infection has spread. The pain and swelling should start to go down within a day or two. You can also help by using salt water mouthwashes.

Will this cure the abscess?

Antibiotics will remove the infection and provide temporary relief. But they will not remove the cause. Either the infected tooth will need to be removed, or you will need root canal surgery — the infected tissue will need to be drained, sterilised and filled.

A swollen mouth or face can be extremely painful — and the cause can be life-threatening. Make the call to your local emergency dentist, and you will have taken the first step to recovery.