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Will an Emergency Dentist Remove Wisdom Teeth?

My 22-year-old son is out of town. We’d always meant to get his wisdom teeth removed but something always seemed to get in the way and they weren’t really bothering him. Of course, now that he is in a different state visiting relatives everything blows up. One of his wisdom teeth is giving him a lot of pain. It is inflamed as well as the gums behind it. He’s been taking ibuprofen but it only helps temporarily. If I sent him to an emergency dentist would they remove his wisdom teeth?


Dear Carolyn,

Man grabbing his jaw in pain

There is no worse feeling than when we can’t be near our children when they need us. I’m sorry this is happening to your son while he is out of town. As to whether an emergency dentist will remove his teeth, it depends. They will certainly see him because he is in pain. They can get him out of pain. Then,  if there is an infection they will likely schedule a follow-up to deal with that.

You didn’t mention if the tooth is erupted, partially erupted, or completely impacted. If it has not erupted, there is a possibility this is pericoronitis, which is just a fancy medical term for inflammation around the wisdom tooth. Sometimes when a tooth is partially erupted there is a flap of gums that traps food and bacteria and can inflame the gums and even lead to an infection. This flap can be removed, which lessens the likelihood of issues such as your son is facing.

Some dentists are comfortable and skilled at removing impacted wisdom teeth. Others will send him to an oral surgeon. Either way, when you are in pain from a tooth, it is always a good idea to get it checked out by a dentist to see how urgent the situation is and be advised on how to solve the problem.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Goebel.

Antibiotics for Tooth Infections

I have a toothache that has me so distracted I am having a hard time getting any work done. I am in the middle of a huge merger and DO NOT have time to see a dentist. I do have a doctor that will write me a prescription for just about anything. I just need to tell him what type of meds I need. Can you help me with that?


Dear B.W.,

Man grabbing his jaw in pain

First, I’m just going to say what your doctor is doing is not only against medical ethics but super dangerous. While I am sure that it is handy to have a doctor willing to do that, I do worry. That being said, an antibiotic will not solve your problem. Instead, it will just be a temporary reprieve. Once the antibiotics run out, your tooth infection will come back with a vengeance.

The only way that you can stop a tooth infection is by having a dentist physically go in and remove the infected pulp. This is because a tooth infection kills the tooth and there is no longer blood flow to the tooth, which means the antibiotic will have no effect on the root of the infection.

You have two choices in truly dealing with a tooth infection. The first is to have a root canal treatment where the dentist goes in and removes the infected pulp. From there you are generally given a dental crown. The good news is that this saves your tooth. It is always better to have as much natural tooth structure as possible.

The second option is if the tooth cannot be saved and the decay and infection have gotten too far. When that happens, the tooth has to be extracted and you will need to replace the tooth. If that happens, I recommend you get a dental implant to replace it. That is the closest to having a healthy natural tooth in your mouth again.

I know you are short on time, but if you let this spread, it can turn from a dental emergency to a medical one. Think about how close your jaw is to your brain and heart. People still die from tooth infections because they allow the infection to spread. I know you are busy, but I really do not want you to put this off. You could call the dentist and ask him to prescribe you an antibiotic, but it will only buy you a short period of time.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.