is this swelling bad news?
December 27, 2006 4:07 PM   Subscribe

My partner is being treated with antibiotics for an infected root canal but has developed a tender, golf-ball sized swelling between his jaw and his cheek. Do we need to go back to the emergency dentist before flying home?

We're on holiday in Israel, due to fly back Friday. My partner developed severe tooth pain which led to an emergency dentist prescribing antibiotics. We thought (as the pain had lessened) that that had taken care of things - but now there's this swelling - we can't get dental advice now till office hours tomorrow morning. Other people who have had this problem - is this a bad sign likely needing emergency action? Could it get worse on a plane? Or are we panicking needlessly?
posted by Flitcraft to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I don't think there would be air pressure issues with flying, but don't go scuba diving.

Seriously, though, I would have him checked out ASAP. Sounds like the antibiotics are not working. Golf-ball sized swelling sounds highly abnormal, and maybe he has a serious abcess. IANAD.
posted by univac at 4:16 PM on December 27, 2006

Seconded. That sort of swelling while on antibiotics can't be a good thing at all.
posted by cholly at 4:20 PM on December 27, 2006

Do we need to go back to the emergency dentist before flying home?

Yes, I'm afraid you do.
posted by teem at 4:22 PM on December 27, 2006

I am not a dentist, but I can say, definitively, "Yup, you do need to go get dental care ASAP for your partner. Dental infections are a particularly awful kind of pain when they are painful, and painkillers don't even begin to touch the pain of a dental infection."

But don't panic.
posted by bilabial at 4:45 PM on December 27, 2006

i would go to an all-night emergency room if you can find one, frankly. swelling = bad always.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:42 PM on December 27, 2006

This can be extremely serious--post haste to an ER--had a very good friend who ended up on life support and continuous IVs for post root canal infection--absolutely not negotiable if there is any elevation of temperature--GO
posted by rmhsinc at 6:07 PM on December 27, 2006

The other benefit of the ED is they may be able to fast-track you into oral surgical care, since the ED doc can request a consult and you won't be left to chance trying to convince someone on the phone the urgency of your situation.
posted by docpops at 6:14 PM on December 27, 2006

Yes, go to an ER immediately.
posted by gramcracker at 6:24 PM on December 27, 2006

Agree with all. This is not supposed to happen AFTER the root canal - the infection can spread quickly. Go now.
posted by clarkstonian at 6:37 PM on December 27, 2006

Of course it sounds like a dental abscess. It also sounds like the dentist tried to head it off with the antibiotics, and it may or may not be cause for alarm that that failed. I don’t know. I’m not a dentist. In fact, I can’t even afford to see a dentist.

If you can get to a dentist... do it. If you can’t there are some pretty good workarounds.

Gargling with the standard over the counter solution of hydrogen peroxide can do wonders for the average abscessed tooth. Don’t just gargle. Hold in the area, tilting your head as needed, and try to forcibly swish it into the infection. Provided you aren’t consuming alcohol, and have a healthy liver, ibuprofen will make the pain go away if you take a lot of it. By a lot I mean 3 to 6 times the recommended dosage.

I’ve done this myself a couple of times, was pleased with the results, and lived to tell the tale.
posted by Huplescat at 6:43 PM on December 27, 2006

So sorry... I missed the root canal part. In any case, I don’t think that hydrogen peroxide will do any harm and it may help.
posted by Huplescat at 7:00 PM on December 27, 2006

Avoid all workarounds like gargling. This can be life-threatening and it would be folly to waste time going to get hydrogen peroxide just to save a few bucks if the alternative is DYING.

Go to the ER. Now.
posted by watsondog at 9:03 PM on December 27, 2006

Response by poster: We saw the emergency dentist. It turned out to be an abscess that needed draining. That seems to have helped. Thanks.
posted by Flitcraft at 5:45 AM on December 28, 2006

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