Should I Go to the ER for a Toothache?

I promised myself that I’d get set up at a local dental office as soon as I got settled in my new home. Well, one thing led to another, which led to another and here I am months later without a regular office. It’s the weekend and I have a toothache. Actually, I think it’s more than a toothache. Half of my face looks swollen. I was seriously considering going to the ER, but my friend said not to bother because they can’t fix teeth there. Should I go to the ER for my tooth or wait until Monday when a dental office is open? I really don’t want to pay ER fees and waste my time if they’re not going to do anything.



Dear Gail,

Your friend is partially right. The emergency room isn’t set up to perform a root canal, extract the tooth, or carry out any restorative services. The best that they can usually do is complete a quick exam and determine if there’s an infection present. If so, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Although it doesn’t sound like much, it can save your life. Infections in teeth can spread throughout your body rapidly, and it’s incredibly dangerous if it reaches your brain or your heart. However, it can wrack havoc on allother parts of your body, too.

With that said, there is a better option- an emergency dentist. An emergency dentist can diagnose and treat the tooth. You’re also likely to find one who is open on the weekend. Try doing an online search for one in your area and place a few calls. If there aren’t any emergency dentists in your area who are available, it’s worth the time and expense to go to the ER. You never know when that infection is really going to blow up, and judging by the swelling you describe, it’s already fairly large.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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