Is pain and tenderness around my implant an emergency?

I had an implant placed about three months ago and the healing process has been great – up until last night. Something felt different and now this morning there’s tenderness and pain that is radiating into my jaw. It hurts enough that I can’t really eat. Of course it’s the weekend, so I’m not sure if this is something I should be worried about having looked at immediately by an emergency dentist or wait until Monday. Any advice? — Gabrielle

It’s probably a good idea to see an emergency dentist. From what you’re describing, you likely have an infection at the implant site since the pain is getting worse and spreading to your jaw. Not being able to eat is also a concern and worthy of a visit to the dentist, too.

Oral infections can spread quickly if not taken care of. They can even become deadly if it attacks the heart or brain. Infection can also lead to complete implant failure and significant bone loss. If that happens and your implant needs replaced, bone grafting will need to be done before placing a new post. Early treatment with an antibiotic can stop this from happening.

If your regular dentist has an answering service, try calling there first.  If they don’t have an on-call line or they don’t respond in a timely manner, look up your nearest emergency dentist and get an appointment as soon as you can.

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