What Is a Dental Emergency? And When Should You See Your Dentist?

Categories: Oral Health Tips


No matter how well you care for your mouth, dental emergencies happen. At the grocery store, during your kid’s soccer practice — it can happen anywhere. 

Experiencing a dental emergency isn’t just inconvenient, it can also be very uncomfortable and put your overall oral health at risk.  

It’s important to know how to access emergency dental care when you experience an oral health problem so that you and your family can recover quickly and prevent future mishaps.  

At Access Health Dental, our trusted dental team is prepared to help restore the health and comfort of your smile with quality emergency dental care right when you need it most.  

If you experience a mouth injury or dental emergency, here’s what you should know to get the help you need. 

What Is a Dental Emergency? 

While all dental concerns can be unpleasant, not every oral health problem is considered an emergency.  

A dental emergency is an issue that requires immediate professional attention. This includes any problem with your teeth, gums, or oral cavities that can’t be managed at home and needs assistance from a dental team. 

Some types of dental emergencies are: 

  • Loose teeth
  • Cracked or chipped teeth with significant pain
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Knocked-out teeth 
  • Lost filling or crown
  • Uncontrollable bleeding and pain
  • Broken orthodontics appliances (brackets and/or wires from braces)
  • Infections (abscess)
  • Infection of gums  

If you’re experiencing any of these dental concerns, don’t hesitate to call our office. Our expert dental team will guide you through how to manage your pain and provide a treatment plan to heal as quickly as possible. 

What Isn’t Considered a Dental Emergency? 

Along with recognizing what oral health problems require emergency dental care, it’s also helpful to know what issues aren’t considered dental emergencies.  

A simple way to know if your concern is an emergency is to ask yourself if you can wait to be seen by a dentist. If the answer is “yes,” it’s likely not an emergency. 

Examples of non-emergency dental problems include: 

  • Chipped tooth with no pain 
  • Minor toothache 
  • Loose or missing filling 
  • Veneer that has fallen off 
  • Suspected cavity 

Even if your dental problem doesn’t require immediate assistance, you should still schedule an appointment with your dentist.  

Dental problems won’t go away on their own, so seeking professional help sooner rather than later is essential to preventing minor issues from turning into more serious ones down the road.  

What Causes Dental Emergencies? 

Emergency dental situations can happen for a variety of reasons like:

  • Poor oral hygiene habits 
  • Food getting caught between teeth 
  • Mouth injuries or head trauma (being hit or kicked in the mouth) 

Regardless of what causes your dental problem, it’s best to call the dentist right away if you think yours requires urgent medical attention. The dentist can guide you on the next steps to take to prevent further damage or pain.  

What Not to Do During a Dental Emergency 

While it can be tempting to care for a serious dental problem at home without speaking to the dentist first, this is never recommended. Doing so could make the situation worse. 

With this in mind, be sure to avoid: 

  • Popping blisters or pimples on your gums caused by abscesses. Instead, go to the dentist to have it drained as soon as possible. 
  • Picking up a tooth by the root if it’s been knocked out. Carefully grab it by the crown, rinse it, and try to place it back in its socket. If this doesn’t work, wrap the tooth in gauze, soak it in milk to prevent it from drying out, and get to the dentist immediately. 
  • Putting crushed medications, such as aspirin, on the tooth. This could damage your tooth’s enamel or gums. 

How Can I Manage the Pain of a Dental Emergency? 

If your oral health concern is causing you pain or discomfort, there are steps you can take to manage the pain until you’re able to see the dentist. To manage pain, you can:

  • Hold a cold compress against the side of your face where the damaged tooth or mouth injury is 
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water or an antibacterial rinse to prevent infection 
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications, like Advil or Tylenol 
  • Avoid eating hard or chewy foods until the pain has subsided or the problem has been resolved 

Do I Need an Appointment for a Dental Emergency? 

If you experience a dental emergency, the first thing you should do is call our office. Along with helping you manage your pain and care for the injury, we’ll also:

  • Prepare for your arrival and any emergency procedures  
  • Help you schedule any needed follow-up appointments 

How to Avoid a Dental Emergency in the Future 

No one expects to have an emergency dental scenario, but the good news is that many of them can be avoided.  

Here are some practical ways to keep your mouth in great condition and lower your chances of experiencing a dental emergency in the future:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day 
  • Floss and use mouthwash daily 
  • Visit Access Health Dental twice a year for routine dental exams and professional cleanings 
  • Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports 
  • Be careful when eating hard or chew foods, such as candy 
  • Avoid biting down on inedible objects, such as pencils or fingernails 

Access Health Dental Can Handle Your Dental Emergency 

Dental emergencies can be scary, especially for a child. The best way to prevent a minor dental issue from worsening is to think quickly and seek professional help. 

At Access Health Dental, we’re here to provide exceptional emergency dental care. If you’re unsure if your oral health concern is urgent, please give us a call 

We can let you know if you should be seen at an emergency dental clinic or if it’s best to schedule a regular appointment in the near future.

Contact us now if you’re having a dental emergency >