Not Sure if This is an Emergency, Should I Call My Dentist?

I always feel bad bothering my dentist after hours. There’s been a few times where I’ve thought there was something seriously wrong, a dental emergency, and it turned out to be nothing or food stuck in my gums. Last time it was a popcorn shell. This time, I noticed some tenderness above one of my upper front teeth a few days ago. It wasn’t bad and it thought it would go away, so I went on with life. It seems to have developed a blister on it now and it hurts a little more, but it’s the weekend and I don’t want to bother my dentist if it isn’t an emergency this time. How serious is this and will it heal on its own?



Dear Ivy,

Ah, the infamous popcorn shell. Those can bring people to their knees. They’re tricky, thin little beasts that can slip in undetected and go unnoticed like a Trojan Horse until they’re ready to launch a full assault. While it might not have been a true dental emergency that time, it’s good that you got treatment, otherwise it could have become one.

As for your “blister,” this may well be a dental emergency. It sounds like you have an infection brewing under your gums at the root of your tooth. This often presents itself as a blister or pimple and if left untreated, like any other kind of infection, can blow up overnight.

Thankfully, they are fairly easily treated, usually with a course of antibiotics and a root canal if you seek treatment early. Call your dentist’s after-hours emergency number and ask him what he recommends and don’t stress about calling him. Any time you have pain or swelling, you should treat it like it’s a dental emergency and make that call. It’s better to find out it’s a popcorn shell than to ignore it and wake up to a face swollen up like a chipmunk’s… or worse.

This Blog is sponsored by Elgin Dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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