What is Considered a Dental Emergency?

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You’ve had a toothache for days. At first, you thought it might disappear on its own. But as the days go by, you’re wondering if it’s here to stay. Is it time to schedule dental treatment? 

Regardless of their discomfort, many people are hesitant to call the dentist. Some patients are anxious about getting needles or they’re reluctant to pay dental bills. Still, it isn’t worth it to live in pain.

It can be hard to distinguish between a mild toothache and a dental emergency. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it may be time to call an emergency dentist:


Cracked/Chipped Tooth

Have you bitten into food that’s too tough? Has something hit a tooth and caused it to crack? Or, if you grind your teeth at night, have you woken up with a damaged tooth?

All of these scenarios can cause a tooth to crack or chip. When a tooth is damaged, it’s more vulnerable to further damage. You’ll notice heightened sensitivity due to exposed nerves. The tooth itself could break from a minor impact. If one of your front teeth has cracked, it may cause you to feel self-conscious about your smile.

Scheduling emergency treatment can prevent further damage to your tooth.


Knocked-Out Tooth

Losing a tooth is undoubtedly a dental emergency. The sooner you take action, the higher your chances are of saving the knocked-out tooth. 

In some cases, you may lose a tooth that was otherwise perfectly healthy; this can result from mouth trauma. Falling and hitting your tooth, sports injuries, and tooth decay all contribute to the loss of a tooth. Wearing sports guards can prevent dental injuries.

Wondering what to do with the tooth itself? You might choose to wash the surface with warm water to remove debris—just be careful not to rinse the roots (or the underside) of the tooth. 

If possible, you can try to gently reinsert the tooth into the socket. But if that causes too much pain, place the tooth in a glass of milk instead; this will keep it hydrated.


Tooth Infection

Infections are not always obvious. They take weeks to develop and may go unnoticed until it’s too late. Some of the signs of a tooth infection include:

  • Bad breath
  • Tender, red, or bleeding gums
  • Swollen cheeks or jaw
  • Pimples on the gumline
  • Sensitive or painful teeth

Left untreated, infections can spread throughout the body; we suggest seeking treatment ASAP. Doing so can save your teeth and protect your overall health, too.

A dentist may need to perform a root canal to remove infected nerves from the pulp chamber of your tooth. They will likely prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. A combination of both treatments can effectively save an abscessed tooth. However, in some cases, extracting the tooth is the best way to prevent the infection from spreading. 


Lost Filling or Crown

Even though fillings can last for many years, they may eventually fall out due to tooth decay or age. A dentist can replace the material and reseal the tooth. If possible, put the filling material in a clean sandwich bag; your dentist may be able to reuse it. 

In the meantime, take extra care to protect the affected tooth. Without the filling in place, the interior of the tooth will be exposed to bacteria. You can use a piece of sugarless gum or orthodontic wax to seal the opening. 



Sometimes, our teeth hurt, and it isn’t clear why. Do you have a cavity? Is one of your wisdom teeth impacted? Could there be something lodged between your teeth?

Regardless of the cause, a sore tooth interferes with our daily life. It impedes our ability to perform our jobs, take care of our responsibilities, and enjoy our free time.

Over-the-counter painkillers can only do so much. These problems rarely resolve themselves on their own, even if you take the time to brush and floss each day. To address the root of the issue, you will need to make an appointment with your dentist. 

Dental-Emergency treatment


What to Do During a Dental Emergency 

Wondering how to handle a dental emergency? Here are a few ways you can manage your pain until you can receive treatment:

  • Use a cold compress. Are your cheeks, gums, or jaw swollen? An ice pack can numb the nerves in your face and reduce swelling. To protect your skin, you can wrap the cold compress in a soft face cloth.


  • Try pain-relieving treatments. You can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage pain and swelling. Some find that applying clove oil can reduce the pain that results from toothaches; this is because it contains a natural anesthetic which numbs nerves. 


  • Eat soft, room-temperature foods. Minimize any stress on the damaged parts of your mouth by sticking to a bland, soft diet. Stay away from anything crunchy, chewy, or hard. Foods that are too hot or cold may cause pain, so try to eat things at moderate temperatures.


Dental emergencies can be stressful and painful experiences. But with the help of an emergency dentist, you can receive the treatment you need for your oral health issue. Don’t live with unnecessary pain—call an emergency dentist today.


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Author Since:  September 18, 2018


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