What Qualifies as a Dental Emergency During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

COVID-19 image of virus for dental emergency blog

I’ve been looking around and it seems like most dental offices are closed outside of dental emergencies because of the coronavirus. I’m not sure if what I have going on qualifies. Over the past couple weeks, my lower right molar has been sensitive. At first, it was only while I was eating. Now, it has kind of settled into a constant dull ache. It’s not bad and Tylenol usually takes the edge off enough that I can get on with life but last night it was worse than usual and kept me up a bit. I’m starting to worry that it’s going to get worse before things start to open up again. Is this something that sounds like it’s urgent even though it’s not real pain or should I just keep an eye on it and see how it does?



Dear Lloyd,

You should place a call to a dentist now.

Pain = Dental Emergency

You’ve said this isn’t “real pain” but it’s keeping you up at night and requiring medication. That’s enough to signify something is wrong and you should get it checked out sooner rather than later. All sorts of things can cause pain. It could be that you’re dealing with a cracked tooth, in which case, leaving it untreated could result in an infection or breaking the tooth. It could be that you’re dealing with a cavity, an infection, or even pain from clenching and grinding. Any of these things will progressively become worse. The sooner you treat them, the less intensive the treatment will be and the quicker you’ll feel better too. Regardless of what’s causing the discomfort, it’s important to get it checked out as soon as you notice there’s a problem.

Signs of Infection = Dental Emergency

Although rare, people still die from “toothaches” in the United States and it typically comes down to failure to treat an infection. That in mind, if you have signs of an infection, it becomes even more important to get treatment promptly. So, how do you know if you might have an infection? Chances are, you’ll have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • An abscess
  • Facial swelling
  • Persistent throbbing
  • Sensitivity to temperatures (hot or cold) or while biting
  • The presence of pus (may be indicated by taste or smell as well)
  • Fever

Speak with a Dentist if You Experience Any of These Issues or Have Concerns

It can be easy to ignore the early stages of a dental problem but that all to often leads to disastrous outcomes. If you’re experiencing a toothache of any degree, you think you might have an infection, or something doesn’t seem right, at least place the call. Your dentist will review your symptoms with you and provide guidance on what your next steps should be. If you aren’t established with an office, run a quick search for “emergency dentist” and see who can get you in. Best of luck to you.

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, provider of emergency dental care in Elgin, Illinois.

Connect with Us

We look forward to meeting you.
Call (847) 742-1330 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.