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Dental Emergencies during COVID-19: symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Dr. Marina Shurova, DDS

DISCLAIMER: The content in this article should not be considered a medical advice. Self-diagnosing can be dangerous and leads to serious health consequences. Please contact your dentist for evaluation.

It is a known fact that the mouth is the gate to your overall health. Research has linked oral health to some of the most serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Therefore my approach to dentistry and dental emergencies is focused on total body wellness, which starts with healthy teeth and gums.

Emergencies are not predictable and can be life threatening or cause costly permanent damage if ignored. The scope of dental emergencies includes tooth decay (cavities), oral infections, abscess, broken or loose teeth, missing teeth, wisdom teeth, trauma & jaw pain (TMJ disorders).


Cavities are holes in the teeth caused by bacterial plaque buildup. Early decay can be successfully treated by FILLINGs (photo on the right). The majority of early cavities are painless. When treated promptly, the tooth and neighboring teeth can be saved from the spread of decay.

Remember tooth decay is contagious! That’s why it is so critical to have frequent maintenance (exam & cleaning) appointments with your dentist, saving you time and money.

If left neglected, dental decay progresses resulting in tooth pain and abscess. Late stage decay requires more complex treatments such as ROOT CANAL and CROWN.

This lady presented with severe pain and pus draining from her gum (arrow). Root canal was performed to save teeth.

This patient presented with severe constant pain in a molar and needed root canal treatment and crown to save his tooth.

This patient presented with pain and facial swelling related to non-restorable remnants of teeth. Extractions were required to treat severe infection and swelling of face.

Severe rampant tooth decay is “TOO LATE TO FIX” giving a patient no other choice but a full mouth EXTRACTION.


Dental trauma is a result of injuries caused by sports, automobile accidents, slip & falls or other unexpected personal injuries. Any dental injury, even if apparently mild, requires an immediate examination by a dentist. Neighboring teeth may suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that can only be detected by a thorough dental exam. Trauma includes:

  • Chipped or fractured teeth
  • Dislodged (Luxated) teeth
  • Knocked-out (Avulsed) teeth
  • Root fractures
  • Root resorption

This patient fractured his front teeth as a result of slip and fall. I was able to save his teeth with ROOT CANAL and CROWN.

With any traumatic dental injury, time is of the essence. Contact your dentist immediately.


Do you brush and floss twice a day? Food particles left on your teeth allow bacterial growth causing an infection characterized by red, swollen, bleeding and painful gums and eventually resulting in tooth, bone and gum loss.

If detected early, gum disease can be treated with a BASIC CLEANING. Advanced conditions require DEEP CLEANING, GUM SURGERY and TOOTH EXTRACTIONs.

Gum disease can be asymptomatic or can result in localized gum abscesses that are extremely painful and require immediate attention.


Trauma and gum disease are the leading cause of loose teeth. Only with a thorough examination can the dentist accurately diagnose the problem and create an appropriate treatment plan. Early treatment is the best treatment.

A lot of times loose teeth cannot be saved requiring EXTRACTION and a replacement with BRIDGE, IMPLANTS or DENTURES.


When a tooth is chipped or fractured, bacteria enter the tooth causing pain when the infection reaches the nerve. Complex procedures such as ROOT CANAL and CROWN are necessary to save the tooth. If not treated early, the tooth will ultimately need EXTRACTION and costly replacement.


It’s hard to imagine, however there can be an emergency associated with missing teeth. When the tooth is lost, the space is created. Overtime neighboring and opposing teeth will naturally tilt into the gap causing the bite to collapse impairing the ability to chew.

This patient (photo to the right) lost lower back teeth. As a result opposing back teeth grew in (arrow) and started to “chew” the gum in the lower jaw creating painful sores. If left neglected, the sores may get infected resulting in severe swelling of mouth and face.

The treatment includes the extraction of the offending upper back tooth to prevent further injury to the lower gum.

Clearly a missing tooth is a cosmetic and chewing problem. Replacement with BRIDGE, IMPLANT or DENTURE is encouraged for long lasting health, functionality and quality of life.


Wisdom teeth deserve special attention, as they tend to show up at the worst possible time and causing a lot of pain.  

Erupting wisdom teeth can grow at various angles in the jaw, sometimes even horizontally. If they aren’t able to emerge normally, wisdom teeth become trapped (impacted) within your jaw. This can result in infection or cause a cyst that can damage neighboring teeth roots or bone support.

Partially exposed wisdom teeth are hard to see and clean creating a passageway for bacteria causing gum disease and oral infection (photo to the right).  Oftentimes wisdom teeth do not have enough room to come in properly crowding or damaging nearby teeth.  The sooner they are removed the better your oral health.

Many dentists believe it’s better to remove wisdom teeth at a younger age, before the roots and bone are fully formed, and when recovery is generally faster after surgery. This is why some young adults have their wisdom teeth pulled before the teeth cause problems.


Infections in the mouth can be caused by bacteria, viruses and yeast. The tongue, the floor & roof of the mouth, cheeks, lips & gums can be affected. Often oral infections indicate underling medical conditions and must not be neglected. Treatment of symptoms and a referral to a medical professional are warranted.

This patient (photo to the left) developed a severe yeast infection (oral thrush) and was prescribed anti-fungal medication.


Just recently during Tampa’s COVID-19 lockdown, two patients presented themselves to our clinic for “extreme tooth pain.” One of the patients confided to nearly admitting himself to a psychiatric ward because of his pain after an unsuccessful visit to the ER.  The other patient drove from the Orlando area to stop the pain. Both patients were surprised to learn that the reason for their suffering was actually jaw pain!

The condition itself is known as temporomandibular joint disorder [TMD] due to the name of the joints themselves commonly referred to as TMJ.

The most common cause of jaw pain is STRESS, which can be directly related to the impact of COVID-19.  The overwhelming factors of losing loved ones, unemployment and the unknown have certainly affected nearly every aspect of our lives adding undue stress. Patients grind and clench their teeth therefore overworking jaw muscles and joints connecting the jaw to the skull. Symptoms include jaw clicking & popping, frequent headaches, sore jaw muscles, severe tooth pain, tooth fractures, ringing and stuffiness in the ears, earache, facial & neck pain, dizziness & loss of balance.  That’s literally a mouthful! No wonder patients think they have tooth pain. This condition is not as straightforward and frequently misdiagnosed and therefore a complete examination is necessary. Treatment includes fabrication of a special oral appliance, physical therapy, massage & acupuncture.

Are you experiencing any of the conditions mentioned above?

C’mon, let’s be honest.  The longer you wait, the higher the chances of you ending up in the ER. Emergency room doctors and nurses are not equipped to manage your dental emergency. The most they can do is prescribe pain medication and antibiotics then refer you to a community dentist.  So delaying your visit to the dentist only increases the risk of irreversible damage to your teeth and smile.  People are social creatures by nature. We know that our smile is how others perceive us and therefore we value our appearance to define ourselves.  Remember, first impressions are lasting impressions! Missing teeth and a crooked smile can be devastating and embarrassing. Let’s face it, our smile is the gateway to our self-confidence and therefore ultimately a contributing factor to our success.

At MyDental we offer same day compassionate emergency care to take your pain away. Our office has flexible hours to include weekends to evaluate and treat your emergency quickly and confidently. If you are experiencing an emergency call us immediately!

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