Is swelling an emergency if wisdom teeth are still in?

My son still has his wisdom teeth. We haven’t moved forward with the removal procedure for various scheduling reasons. Well, he seems to be having some discomfort lately. I’m sure this isn’t uncommon, but when I took a look back there, I see swelling. It looks like it is right around where the wisdom tooth is starting to break the surface of the gums. Is this a dental emergency? We are planning to talk to the dentist about the extraction at the next appointment in a few months. Does he need to be seen sooner?

– Linda in Nebraska


The condition you are describing sounds like pericoronitis. Although it isn’t necessarily a dental emergency at this point, it could very well turn into one.

Here is an explanation. When the tooth is erupting, the skin breaks and the skin can become an area where food particles become trapped. There may be some noticeable irritation. At this point, gargling with salt water should help. It will also help to remove the debris.

But if you are noticing swelling around the eruption area, it may be cause for concern. It is possible that the area is becoming infected or is already infected. The swelling could be an abscess. If that is the case, you need to schedule an emergency dentist appointment, as soon as possible. Infections can quickly become very serious. Antibiotics will need to be prescribed and it will need to be treated. Don’t mess around with infections. They can spread into other areas of the body and complicate treatment. So to answer your question, yes, this needs to be treated like a dental emergency.

Best case scenario, the situation hasn’t advanced. But it would be in your son’s best interest to be seen right away. Most dentists leave time in their daily schedules to accommodate dental emergencies. Call in today!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Is it possible to get an affordable full mouth reconstruction?

My teeth are absolutely terrible. I didn’t have several of them when I was born. Others are in really bad shape, some are chipped, and others have had to be pulled. I need to do something, but am afraid I cannot afford a full mouth reconstruction. Any chance I will be able to find an affordable dentist to do this kind of work? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

– Elizabeth in Nevada


Thank you for your question and sorry to hear you have had issues with your oral health. A full mouth reconstruction can mean different things to different dentists. In some cases, it means that all the teeth would receive crowns. Other times, dental implants are involved to replace any missing teeth. But dental implants are expensive and so is a mouth full of crowns. So if budget is a large determining factor, there are some other treatment options that may help to keep the costs down.

Be open with the dentist about your search for affordable dentistry. Many times, they will be willing to work with you on phasing our treatment over time, or recommending low-interest payment plans. If you cannot afford dental implants, a dental bridge, partial, or removable denture could be an option. If you had to go the denture route, as little as two dental implants could be used to help stabilize the denture. It will also prevent facial collapse, a debilitating bone loss condition, in the immediate area around the implants.

The best thing to do is to go in for a consultation to determine what your options are. Be upfront about your goal to keep things affordable and see what can be worked out. If a full mouth reconstruction isn’t going to be the best treatment, having some work done would go a long way in improving the way you look and feel about your teeth. Best of luck! And thanks for your question.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Can a 15 year old get a dental implant?

I have a 15 year old that has one gray tooth. It seems to getting darker too.  I didn’t really think it was dead originally because he is so young. But he is very active with BMX tricks so he probably knocked it pretty good once. I guess I always thought he would be in pain if it really was dead? Do you know if he would be a candidate for a dental implant at his age?  I fear he will be made fun of if we don’t do something soon. You know how cruel kids can be!

– Sherin in Nebraska


Yes, kids can be mean. It is understandable that you would want to get the tooth replaced, especially since it seems to be getting darker. It would be wise to go see a dentist to get a proper diagnosis. It is quite possible that a gray or discolored tooth may have been caused by a trauma to the mouth.

Even though it has discolored and may indeed be dead, it doesn’t mean that it has to be removed. There is a chance that the tooth is still salvageable with a root canal. The restoration will improve the appearance too so it will not be noticeable. But you need to get in sooner than later. The longer you wait, the chances go down that the tooth can be saved.

To answer your question about your son being a dental implant candidate, at 15 he may not be a candidate. This is because at that age his jaw is still growing and maturing. So it won’t be until later in his 20’s that a dental implant would be an appropriate option. There are some dentists around that place mini implants for teenagers. But then you run the risk of it not looking very nice as he gets older and his jaw grows. The other teeth are also at risk of shifting with this scenario.

So just get into your dentist to explore your options and hopefully save the tooth.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I’m scared for my son to get sedation dentistry?

My four-year old son sees a pediatric dentist and has to have a couple of fillings done. Because he’s so little, the doctor doesn’t think he’ll sit still and wants to sedate him for treatment. I can understand that and I’m okay with it, but I want to be able to be with him the whole time. The assistant said the doctor doesn’t allow it, though. I’m really not comfortable with him being alone. Should I bother trying to push the issue or just find a new office? Is there anything I can say to the doctor to make her change her mind?

– Chris in North Carolina

Dear Chris,

Generally speaking, assistants know the doctor’s policy well and any information they give you is solid. However, if you disagree with a guideline or have questions, it’s always a good idea to talk directly with the doctor. There are no magic words that can be said to make her change her mind if this is a steadfast office rule. Nevertheless, if you explain what you’d like to have happen, it will give her the chance to tell you why she has that specific policy, issue a final decision, or make an allowance. As a pediatric dentist, she’s likely been through this scenario numerous times before, and her policies are based upon her personal experience.

It may set your mind at ease to know that your son will never be alone. Because it’s a sedation dentistry procedure, someone will be looking after him and monitoring his status the entire time. Some pediatric dentists will allow a parent to be present until the child is sedated, others will allow a parent to be there the whole time, and some will not allow parents in the back room at all. This is because parents can be comforting to a child, cause the child to be fearful, or even hinder the doctor from providing treatment. Even if a parent sets out with the best of intentions, it’s not always possible to predict how Mom or Dad will react during the procedure.

When you speak with the doctor, she can explain policies and procedures. Knowing what will happen throughout the course of treatment, as well as any safety protocol, may make you feel comfortable enough that you won’t feel the need to switch dentists, even if they ask you to wait outside.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Freaking out over a broken temporary crown.

First off, let me say I get a bit anxious about getting any dental work done. I just had a temporary crown put on last week which is the first larger dental treatment I have done. So this is all new to me. Well, when I flossed the other day, it popped right off. Now I look terrible because I have a gaping hole in my smile. When I call the emergency line at my dentist, they said tomorrow, late afternoon is the soonest they can see me. I am so embarrassed. It looks terrible! Why are they making me wait, isn’t this a dental emergency? They mentioned they already have another emergency appointment before me, but I am freaking out!

– Micki in Arizona


Any kind of unexpected issue in dentistry feels like an emergency. It sounds like you did the right thing by calling into the emergency dentist line. Is there any other concern like pain or swelling? Because if it is more of a cosmetic issue in regard to your appearance, the other dental emergency that is scheduled before you may be of higher priority. Not to say your need isn’t important, but if someone is in pain, that typically takes precedence.

Most dentists will routinely send information home when you receive a temporary crown advising you to be careful flossing and avoid chewy or crunchy foods. It is not that uncommon for a temporary dental crown to come loose or even pop off.  It is only being held in with temporary cement.

Don’t take it personally. It sounds like they will get you in as soon as reasonably possible. But based on what you described, it doesn’t necessarily sound like you have a true dental emergency.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Does Medicaid cover dental implants?

I am on Medicaid and have been for many years. I don’t have the best oral health. I think it’s time to get several teeth pulled. I have heard dental implants are the best solution to replace missing teeth. Are they even an option for someone like me with Medicaid? I’m not sure if they will be covered.

– Maria in Arizona


No, dental implants are not covered by Medicaid. This program has been designed to take care of basic dental needs. So a treatment that is more extensive, like dental implants will likely not be covered. Typically, Medicaid covers the least expensive dental treatment option. From this viewpoint, dental implants are considered elective. It is unfortunate since implants are the the best way to replace missing teeth. But there are less expensive treatments available.

That said, you can still choose to pay for dental implants on your own. There are affordable dental implant payment plans or low financing options available with the right dentist. If you can figure out a way to cover the costs, you will be happiest in the long run with implants.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

What is too young for sedation dentistry?

I have a 12 year old girl that is a wee bit dramatic, to say the least. She was in for a recent cleaning and was told she has a tiny cavity. It’s her first one and she immediately broke down in the chair. I have tried to talk to her about it and ease her anxiety, but she won’t even engage in a conversation with me. I know she’s dramatic, but I didn’t see this kind of reaction coming. There is no reason she should be so petrified! She has been seeing our same family dentist ever since she was a toddler, so it’s not like she fights me to go in for cleanings and routine care. Should I take her to a pediatric dentist for this? Do you know if she is too young for sedation dentistry? Any input would be hugely appreciated!

– Becky in Pennsylvania


Those pre-teen years are tough… She’s not an adult or teen yet, but not a child. And there are so many changes going on with her developmentally right now. It’s likely that her reaction, assuming she hasn’t displayed this behavior previously, is purely emotional. So that’s a good thing!

If it truly is fear that is contributing to her reaction, sedation dentistry may be a legitimate option for her. That being said, for a cavity, it would great if you could try to have a discussion with her about how the numbing process works. And guarantee that she will not feel anything. But if she simply is not having it and continues to resist, the dentist will need a complete medical history so the medication can be dosed appropriately to her age and weight. Even if you are able to avoid using oral sedation, a sedation dentist is typically more gentle, caring, and trained specifically to treat fearful patients. So start talking with your dentist since she is familiar with him or her and if it isn’t being received well, try a sedation dentist in your area.

At 12 years old, she isn’t necessarily too old to see a pediatric dentist either. Often times a pediatric dentist will treat children until they are 18 years of age. The pediatric dentist’s office will be fun and more catered to put children at ease, so it may be something to consider in your situation. Most pediatric dentists also offer sedation dentistry to help anxious patients as well.

If you end up seeing a different dentist than the one that is recommending she get a filling, it is likely they will want to perform an independent exam before providing treatment. That will be good in allowing your daughter some time to get to know the new office and staff. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Will My “Battle Wound” Heal on its Own or Should I See an Emergency Dentist?

I was playing paintball with my son the other day and he nailed me good. Somehow, he managed to hit me right in the jaw. Sure, it hurt, but it was war, so I got right back to fighting and ignored it as best as I could. Now, I have a fairly good size bruise and, I’m not sure, but I think one of my teeth is loose. It’s hard to explain, but it just feels wrong. I can’t see it move when I mess with it, though I can feel it. The battle scar is a temporary honor that I’m happy to bare, but if the tooth is loose, I don’t want it to get worse. Will it heal on its own or do I need to see an emergency dentist?


Tim in Texas

Dear Tim,

Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” declares, “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak,” and it sounds like you have mastered that. Hopefully, your battle wound is temporary, but you will need the help of an emergency dentist to verify this and provide treatment.

First off, though, stop messing with it. You’ve likely injured the ligaments that help hold your tooth in place. Right now, they might only be stretched, but if the tooth gets pulled on more, they can snap. There’s a very good chance the emergency dentist will want to stabilize the tooth to make sure it doesn’t get jarred further. Because it has already been traumatized, there’s a chance you’ll need a root canal later anyway. However, if you haven’t previously passed that threshold, receiving proper treatment now can help ensure that more damage isn’t caused. It’s possible the tooth will heal on its own, but skipping or delaying treatment increases your risk of needing a root canal or of losing the tooth later.

It also might be a good idea to ponder an additional “Art of War” quote: “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” However, if the battles persist, it’s certainly a wise choice to invest in some protective gear.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.