Help… my dentist won’t see my son for a dental emergency!

My teenage son woke up this morning and I noticed his face is quite swollen. He’s usually pretty low key about most things, but I can tell that he is in a lot of pain. When I called our dentist they said we would have to wait until tomorrow because they don’t have any appointments available today. I’ve given him an over-the-counter pain reliever that seems to help some, but he is still very uncomfortable. I thought my dentist would see him if it was a dental emergency – and from what I can tell, this seems like an emergency. Do we wait this out or should I find another dentist who will see him right away?  — Mary Ann

Dear Mary Ann,
You probably know your son the best and if he is letting on that he is in pain, it’s probably safe to say that this situation is a dental emergency. The symptoms you are describing are a indication that there’s an infection and that won’t go away unless it is treated. If fact, it will only get worse and he may be in even more pain in a few days. Infections in the mouth can be quite dangerous if not treated in a timely manner.

Maybe your dentist office doesn’t understand exactly what is going on. You should call back and clearly state what his symptoms are and that it is a dental emergency. Let them know that he needs to be seen today – and if they can’t fit him in, you will take him somewhere else.  They can either choose to fit him in or they will have to explain why they don’t believe it’s a dental emergency and understand that you need to take him somewhere else.

If you decide to find someone else, seek out an emergency dentist in your area because they can keep their schedule flexible for situations just like this. And if you simply can’t get him in at all, call your regular doctor. He or she can at least prescribe an antibiotic that will get at the infection until you can be seen by your dentist and get to the root of the problem.

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