Category Archives: Emergency Dentist

Will Pain in a Broken Tooth Go Away?

My cheek is so swollen I cannot even smile. It’s on the left side of my face, where I have a broken upper molar. My face is so sore that the pain goes up to my eye socket. The tooth had a bad cavity in It, and while I was eating dinner last Saturday, I felt a lot of pain. I kept eating, and eventually, part of the tooth broke. The broken piece had a foul smell, but I saved it. Since the tooth is in the back of my mouth, I was not planning to replace it or doing anything to it because the edges are not rough, and you cannot see the tooth when I smile. Is it normal to have this kind of pain for a broken tooth? Will the pain go away? Thank you. Monte from Chicago


Thank you for your question. Although one of our dentists would need to examine and x-ray your tooth for an accurate diagnosis, we will answer your question about tooth pain.

Will Pain from a Broken Tooth Go Away?

The pain from a broken tooth will not go away until the tooth pulp and nerves inside it die. A dentist needs to treat and restore your teeth to prevent further damage or tooth loss. When the pain goes away, the infection causing facial swelling may have spread to other teeth or your jawbone. Only a dentist can relieve the pain and remove the infection.

A dentist will prescribe antibiotics to ensure the infection is completely out of your system. But without root canal treatment, the condition will not go away. Although you may be anxious about dental appointments, a skilled dentist makes root canal treatment a painless procedure by numbing the area thoroughly. After root canal treatment, the dentist will prepare your tooth for a crown. Talk to a dentist about sedation options if you need help relaxing before the procedure.

If you do not already have a dentist, search online for a dentist with advanced training in cosmetic dentistry who accepts urgent same-day appointments.

The Salem, Massachusetts dentists at Burba Dental Partners sponsor this post.

Do I Need Root Calcification Treatment?

Two months ago, I noticed yellow staining on the tooth next to my right front tooth. I asked my dentist to check the tooth last week when I had an exam and cleaning. After taking an x-ray, my dentist said the root canal is calcified, and I need root canal treatment and a new crown to prevent the tooth from fracturing. I’ve never heard of root calcification, so I am unsure if a root canal is my only option. I want to get a second opinion but do not want to see another dentist in an emergency because I delayed treatment. Will you please explain my options? – Thank you. Silas from Delaware


 Thank you for your question.

What Is Root Canal Calcification?  

Root canal calcification is a condition that occurs when excess calcium builds up in the root channels. Tooth trauma is the most common cause of calcification. After trauma, the following occurs:

  • Calcium deposits are a reaction to trauma to help the tooth repair itself.
  • The calcium deposit takes up space in the pulp chamber and root canals.
  • Lack of space makes it challenging for the tooth to heal.

In addition to tooth trauma, calcification occurs as we age when we do not have enough calcium and vitamin C. The root canals can calcify.

Does a Calcified Root Canal Need Treatment?

A calcified root canal needs treatment if x-rays show signs of infection. An endodontist (root canal specialist) may treat calcified roots using these tools:

  • Dental microscope – Assists in finding calcified channels
  • 3-D CT scan – Locates calcified canals for preserving more tooth structure
  • Ultrasonic dental instrument – Removes small amounts of tooth structure and helps the tooth retain strength.

What Happens Without Treatment?

Without treatment, infected calcified channels allow infection to spread in the tooth, your bone, and possibly other teeth.

We recommend scheduling an appointment with a root canal specialist in your area to examine your tooth and determine if it requires treatment. Please do not wait until you have an emergency and possibly end up in the hands of a dentist who is unskilled in treating root canal calcification.

Salem Massachusetts dentist Dr. Randy Burba sponsors this post.

My mouth is swollen and I feel weak

I’ve had a toothache for 2 weeks. Now my mouth is swollen, and I feel weak.  I felt the toothache bothering me in my sleep last night, and my mouth was very dry. After I woke up this morning, I went to the bathroom and saw that the the whole left side of my face is swollen. Also, my eye is almost swollen shut.

It hurts so bad to open my mouth to brush my teeth, and I have to sip water from a straw because I can’t open it wide enough for a cup. I am starting to feel weak, too. I am terrified of the dentist which is why I am in this mess. Is there anything at all I can do to make the swelling go away without going to a dentist? I have an antibiotic that a doctor gave me for an infection in my hand that would not go away. Can I get a refill of this and help the tooth infection? – Alyson


This is not something that you can treat yourself. You have a serious tooth infection that can spread to other teeth, your jawbone, and beyond. If you feel weak, the infection may already be in your bloodstream.  Find a dentist who accepts emergency visits and likes seeing anxious patients. They will offer will understand your fear but also get you the help you need right away.

You can receive sedation to calm you for your dental procedure. The dentist will also give you an antibiotic to take after removing the infection. But you cannot get rid of the infection with an antibiotic alone.

If you need assistance, ask someone for help finding a dentist who will see you right away and offer sedation. You didn’t mention your location, but if you are nearby our office, give us a call.

Burba Dental Partners of Salem, Massachusetts sponsors this post.

How Long Can I Wait to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed?

How long can I wait to have my wisdom teeth removed before it is an emergency? I felt pain in my lower left jaw and scheduled an appointment with a dentist right away. I do not have a regular dentist.

Young man holding the side of his face - perhaps with wisdom teeth pain

After taking x-rays, the dentist said that my wisdom teeth are impacted and causing pain. The dentist referred me to an oral surgeon, but I did not schedule the appointment yet. In July, I just moved out on my own and have a new apartment. I’m 27 years old and seeking employment that offers some dental coverage.

How long can I wait before I must remove the wisdom teeth? I want to delay the surgery, but I don’t want the pain to get so intense that it disrupts my life after finding the right employment. Thank you. Blaise from Columbus, OH


Thank you for your question.

How Long Can You Wait for Wisdom Teeth Removal?

How long you can wait before wisdom teeth removal depends on the condition of your teeth. As we age, wisdom teeth become more challenging to remove, and complications increase. Dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth before your roots grow deeper and get entangled with your jawbone.

Impacted wisdom teeth

If your impacted wisdom teeth already hurt, they will hurt more as the roots thicken and your jawbone gets denser. After prolonged irritation, infection will settle in your teeth, possibly spreading to other teeth or your bone.

The dentist you saw for urgent treatment was correct. Take care of the situation before it becomes a serious issue. Even if you do not have dental insurance, if you can schedule the time to care for your teeth now, it is better than having an emergency after you get a new job. Often, you must complete at least a month of employment before dental insurance is in effect.

You can ask the oral surgeon about financing options or apply for health care financing through a company like Care Credit.

Burba Dental Partners of Salem, Massachusetts, sponsors this post. We strive to offer some of the best dental care in the Boston area.

Does a Tooth Infection Cause a Fever?

My child’s dentist told me that a dental infection will not cause a fever. I’m a little confused by this because I was previously under the impression it could. They didn’t seem to want to explain anything. I came across your blog and thought I’d ask you. Can a dental infection cause a fever? Why or Why not?


Dear Camille,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

I think there was likely a communication error here. What they likely meant to say is that a dental infection doesn’t always come with a fever. Often, a dental infection is contained within the tooth and a fever won’t be a symptom. Sometimes, however, it will create a fever. It is an infection. Another symptom some patients have is a feeling of being run down. In fact, I’ve known doctors who when they can’t figure out why a patient feels so poorly will send them to the dentist. If it turns out they have a dental infection, having it removed makes them feel better.

If you and your child are getting regular dental care, it is unusual for a tooth to suddenly blow up. Most of the time cavities can be caught early and you can get a small composite filling. However, if you delay going in or don’t see the dentist regularly, it can grow without you realizing it.

If they decay get’s too large, you will go from needing a small filling to needing a dental crown. If it grows even further, then you’re talking about it reaching the pulp and a root canal treatment will become necessary in addition to the crown. Preventative care is the least expensive dental work you can have.

When Patients Avoid the Dentist

It doesn’t sound like you are someone who avoids dental care. However, I’m saying this for the benefit of others who might be reading this who do struggle. In general, people avoid the dentist for two reasons. The first is financial. The second is fear of the dentist.

If finances keep you from the dentist there are a few options. Some dental plans are inexpensive. They’ll cover your cleanings and check-ups and give mild discounts on the larger ticket items. However, getting those check-ups usually prevents you from needing any of the bigger treatments.

Additionally, most dentists are compassionate and went into the field because they want to help people. If you explain financial issues, they may be willing to allow you to pay out your treatments.

If fear keeps you from the dentist, there are dentists who are great at working with patients who suffer from anxiety. You can do an internet search for them and it may give you the positive experience you’ve been needing to get back to the dentist regularly.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Chest Pain and Dental Care

Can chest pain accompany dental problems or is it always a sign of a heart attack? My mother is getting older and doesn’t enjoy dentists. I have trouble getting her there unless she has a toothache. This time she’s mentioned her chest hurts too. When I mentioned taking her to the doctor she said not to bother that it’s happened with other toothaches. Is that connected or is she avoiding the doctor on top of the dentist?


Dear Elisabeth,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

While there is a link between oral health and cardiovascular health, chest pain should never be ignored. Ever. I think it is important you have your mother seen right away by a doctor to be safe.

About 10% of heart attacks report jaw pain as a symptom. Though, that is usually throughout the jaw and not localized to a single tooth. The most common description is pain throughout the lower jaw. Some people describe this pain but don’t have any accompanying chest pains, yet they were still having a heart attack. It is always better to have pain looked at. Each person’s anatomy and responses vary. There isn’t a single common symptom to look out for.

Some Other Symptoms of a Heart Attachk

The Mayo Clinic gives other signs of a heart attack to be aware of:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

Oral Health’s Connection with Heart Health

A number of studies have shown that people with gum disease are at a much higher risk of both heart disease and diabetes. The converse is true as well. Those with heart disease and diabetes seem to be at a greater risk of gum disease.

You said your mother tends to wait until she is in pain to deal with her dental health. Not only is oral care by dental emergency a painful and dangerous way to function, it puts her at a much greater risk of periodontal problems which will negatively impact her cardiovascular health. Not to mention that severe gum disease will lead to her losing her teeth!

If she avoids the dentist because of anxiety, she is not alone. Fortunately, there is a solution. Look on reviews of dentists to see who is considered gentle. For instance, with Dr. Burba, most children can’t even tell he gave them a shot. That’s the type of dentist your mother may need.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Root Canal or Dental Bonding

I went to an endodontist for what I thought was a dental emergency. My tooth is darker. He said the tooth is still viable and likely doesn’t have to a root canal treatment. In that case, I think I could just get dental bonding done to make it look better. My endodontist said I’d have to get several teeth bonded for it to match. I’m not sure I want to do that if I will need a root canal in the near future. What do you think?


Dear Trisha,

Illustration of an abscessed tooth

If he’s telling you the tooth is viable and saying you don’t “have to” have a root canal treatment, then you don’t have a tooth infection and don’t require a root canal. You either need one or you don’t. Saying you don’t have to have one is misleading. My guess is you have a cracked tooth. Doing a root canal treatment won’t help that.

If you want to treat the color, dental bonding or a porcelain veneer can do that. As to your dentist’s suggestion that you’d have to have several teeth done in order for them to match, that is only true if you go to an inexperienced cosmetic dentist. An expert cosmetic dentist can match a single tooth.

Finding that Expert Cosmetic Dentist

Very few dentists are skilled in cosmetic dentistry. The best have reached accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. To reach that level, they have to pass stringent exams as well provide visual evidence of their artistry in a large number of cases they’ve completed.

If I needed cosmetic work done on a visible tooth, I would go to an AACD accredited dentist. You are assured a beautiful result.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Do I Have Oral Cancer

Lately, every morning when I wake up my jaw and teeth hurt like mad. I can’t see anything wrong with the teeth or gums. Is this a symptom of oral cancer? Cancer runs in my family, not this kind in particular but a variety of others. I’m trying not to panic. Would this be a dental emergency?


Dear Macy,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

Don’t panic. If you see a dentist regularly, they should be doing checks for oral cancer. I wouldn’t consider this a dental emergency necessarily and I would be surprised if it was any type of oral cancer. In fact, I think you are dealing with bruxism. You need to bear in mind that I haven’t seen you and am going purely on the symptoms you mentioned above.

Pain in the jaw and teeth is often caused because we grind or clench our teeth in our sleep without realizing it. Your dentist would normally notice signs of this because it wears down the surfaces of your teeth. This could be a fairly new habit for you which would explain why your dentist hadn’t mentioned it yet. Maybe there is new stress in your life which can be causing it.

Bruxism Can Lead to a Dental Emergency

When you are grinding or clenching your teeth it damages them. This can lead to you cracking a tooth or causing it to come loose. Putting off treatment for this can even lead to an extreme procedure known as a full-mouth reconstruction where all your teeth have to be crowned to fix the bite.

Truthfully, it is much easier and affordable to deal with this now. This is especially true because the solution is so easy. Your dentist can fit you with a night guard. This is a simple custom-fitted mouthpiece which you will wear while you sleep. It takes the pressure off of your teeth, protecting them from the damage they would normally incur. Because your dentist fits it to your particular bite, they are very comfortable.

This blog is brought to you by Salem Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Adult tooth knocked loose

Is there anything which can be done about an adult tooth which is loose? I had an accident and dropped a hammer on my mouth. I thought everything was fine except for a fat lip, but this morning I can swear the front tooth feels loose. I thought I was imagining it at first, but now I’m pretty sure. It’s wiggling. Is this a lost cause or can it be saved?


Dear Lizzie,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

Before I go over anything else, I’m going to encourage you to stop wiggling the tooth no matter how tempting it is to check. There are ligaments on your tooth which help keep them secure. Often when there is some trauma to the tooth those ligaments get stretched. However, if you keep wiggling it, the ligaments could snap, putting your teeth at greater risk.

Now that I’ve warned you about the wiggling, I can have some sympathy. Ouch! I can’t imaging how much it hurt to drop a hammer on your mouth.

It’s possible the tooth can be saved, but this is considered a dental emergency and you need to see your dentist right away. If you don’t have one, do an internet search for an emergency dentist. They are simply general dentists who are willing to see non-established patients quickly in situations such as yours.

Saving Loose Adult Teeth

The dentist will examine and do x-rays of the tooth. The x-rays are to establish whether there’s been any internal damage to the tooth. If there has, you’ll need a root canal treatment and possibly a dental crown.

If there hasn’t, and it’s just a matter of the ligaments being stretched, your dentist will stabilize the tooth with some type of splint to keep it secure while the ligaments heal.

Don’t put this off. Get it looked at quickly so you don’t risk loosing the tooth.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Why Is My Tooth Gray After Dental Visit?

I went to see a dentist because of some tooth pain. He did an x-ray but said he didn’t see anything wrong. He decided to cap the tooth because he said the symptoms reminded him of of a cracked tooth. The tooth pain went away, but now I noticed the tooth next to it is gray. Did the dentist do something to it?


Dear Carla,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

When you have a dental emergency, all you care about is getting out of pain. I haven’t seen your x-rays so I’m having to just draw some possibilities.

First, there could have been a misdiagnosis. The only way to tell this with certainty is to have another dentist look at your x-rays and tell you if the true problem was obvious. If it was, then you have a right to a full refund from the original dentist.

Another option is that you did have a cracked tooth which needed a dental crown, then later, the adjacent tooth was injured by something else. Let’s be honest, this is very unlikely. But, as it is a possibility I mention it.

The third option is much more likely. Both teeth could have experienced trauma at the same time but it took the second tooth a while to show it’s injury.

Is a Gray Tooth a Dental Emergency?

When a tooth is gray it means it is either dead or dying. When that happens it needs a root canal treatment. It’s not a dental emergency yet, but if you don’t get it taken care of can turn into one quickly.

You didn’t seem to feel too confident in the dentist who gave you a dental crown, so you may want to let whichever dentist you go to for your second opinion do your root canal treatment.

This blog is brought to you by Salem Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.