A dental emergency can be a stressful and painful time, with discomfort, swelling, and leading to a host of other dental issues, but what exactly defines a dental emergency? It’s important to know what constitutes dental emergencies, not just so dentists aren’t clogged with common dental problems that could’ve waited for an appointment, but to recognize immediate threats to your health.

What is a Dental Emergency?

While many dental situations can be very painful, not all dental issues are considered an emergency. To help guide you in choosing whether to make an appointment with your dentist or to go to an emergency dentist, there are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Am I in severe pain? If the pain is severe and there is bleeding, it could be a dental emergency.
  2. Did I lose a tooth? If a tooth has been knocked out due to trauma or another dental issue, fast treatment could save the tooth.
  3. Are my teeth loose? Children and teenagers may have loose teeth fairly often, but an adult should never. If you feel a loose tooth, even without pain, it’s a serious problem.
  4. Do I have an infection? An abscess or serious infection in the mouth can be life-threatening and treatment should be quickly sought out.
  5. Am I bleeding? If your gums are bleeding, it’s a potential sign of a dental emergency.

Common Types of Dental Emergencies

While there are signs of experiencing a dental emergency, it’s also good to be familiar with the most common dental emergencies and what to do till you can see an emergency dentist:

  • Unexplainable toothache: a sudden and unexplainable toothache qualifies as an emergency as it’s the body’s way of saying something is wrong. Until you can see a dentist you can apply a cold compress, rinse your mouth with salt water, and use over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Swollen or Bleeding Gums: occasional gum irritation doesn’t require an immediate dentist visit, but gums that won’t stop bleeding (especially when there is pain and swelling) can mean an underlying issue. 
  • Swollen Mouth or Jaw: if your mouth or jaw begins to suddenly swell for no apparent reason, seek out immediate medical attention as it could be an infection, lymph node irritation, or another issue that requires an emergency dentist.
  • Knocked-Out Tooth: When a tooth is suddenly knocked-out, it is a dental emergency and requires immediate action to potentially save the tooth and reinsert it. Before seeing an emergency dentist and while you wait for dental care it’s important to pick up the tooth by the top to not touch the root, rinse it without scrubbing, and place it in a container of milk or water.
  • Missing Filling or Broken Crown: a missing filling can expose the tooth’s nerve and cause many other dental problems without immediate treatment. Similarly, a broken crown or one that has fallen out can leave the tooth exposed and vulnerable to infection and further damage. Both require an immediate visit to the dentist.
  • Abscessed Tooth: a dental abscess is a dental emergency, it is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition where a pocket of pus in the tooth has led to an infection and causes fever, tooth sensitivity, persistent toothache, tender lymph nodes in the neck, face swelling, and a pimple-like bump on the gums near the infected tooth.

What to Do in a Dental Emergency

When any of these dental problems arise and the questions listed guide you towards confirming a dental emergency, it’s important to seek emergency dental service straightaway. By ignoring or waiting while having an emergency dental problem, you risk losing teeth, additional discomfort, and the problem becoming more extensive and life-threatening. It is important to note that emergency rooms can treat some dental emergencies such as:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Bleeding gums
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Dental fractures
  • Pain

Dr. Li and the care team at Ellerslie 66 Dental Clinic also provide emergency dental services and strive to make dental care affordable, and accessible to all of our patients. We will work with you to find a treatment plan for your dental veneers that works for your financial situation.

If you have questions about our emergency dental service, our team of compassionate professionals can help you understand all of your options. Contact us now or give us a call at (780) 705-9866.

Yuping Li
Yuping Li