I underwent dental implant surgery a few months ago. I thought my jaw and gums were healing well, but then I had some pain around the implant site the other day. I thought maybe it was sore because I slept on it funny or something, but now the pain radiates throughout my entire jaw. I can’t even eat, it hurts too much. I’m getting worried. Do I need to go back to my dentist? I wouldn’t say this is an emergency, but I’m kind of concerned.
Evan, South Carolina
Thank you for your message. Whether or not we would call this a dental emergency to me depends on how intense the pain is. Putting myself in your shoes, from what you are describing to me, I would want this taken care of today so yes, I would call it an emergency.
I’m quite concerned about your situation. If the implant was placed a few months ago, it should be feeling fine now and be almost fully or fully osseointegrated. Pain that is starting now, as strong as the pain that you’re indicating, could indicate an infection.
Try calling your dentist even after hours, if you need to. Most offices, while they won’t see new patient emergencies after hours, will make arrangements for patients of record. They will give you a number to call to leave an emergency message. Some will even give the dentist’s cell phone number. If you have any trouble getting into your dentist, you might want to consider calling another office that accepts new patient emergencies, though you are best off seeing the dentist who treated you, who knows the background of your treatment.
One concern many patients have about treating emergencies is that they are anxious about the visit. Check online and see if your local office offers with nitrous oxide or painless injections.
From what you’ve described, you may have a tooth infection in one of the implant sites. If the infection is left untreated, it can undo all your healing progress and even lead to dental implant failure. If that happens, you will have to remove the infected implanted posts and may even have to undergo bone grafting in order to place new ones. This is a worst-case scenario, so please listen to your body and seek emergency treatment.
An untreated oral infection can also impact other parts of your body, not just your mouth. If the infection spreads from your jaw to your brain or your heart, it could prove fatal. Fortunately, it sounds like you’ve caught it early, and it can be treated with antibiotics.
I hope this advice helps.
This blog post is brought to you by Colorado Springs emergency dentist, Dr. Joseph Rota.