Quick! To the Dentist! (The Top 10 Dental Emergencies)

toy ambulance - what is a dental emergency

Quick! To the Dentist! (The Top 10 Dental Emergencies)

Tooth pain can cause major disruptions to your life. From an inability to chew to the full body symptoms of an infection, there is no reason to suffer through a dental emergency. Knowing when to call your dentist is just as important as brushing and flossing when it comes to keeping your mouth healthy.

Dental Pain Shouldn’t Wait

Pain is your nervous system’s way of telling you that there is something wrong. Ignoring pain in your teeth, mouth, or jaw can be dangerous as well as uncomfortable. Waiting to see a dentist could lead to more expensive treatments or even permanent damage. Your pain could be a sign of a dental emergency and should call your dentist’s office right away to make an urgent appointment. 

The Top 10 Dental Emergencies

1. Broken, Cracked, or Chipped Teeth  

Rinse your mouth out with warm water and save any broken bits you find. If your tooth, or gums are bleeding, apply pressure to the area using a compress (like a clean paper towel) and call for an appointment.

2. A Dislodged Tooth 

If a tooth feels loose, or has been partially knocked out in an accident, call your dentist right away. To relieve pain and reduce swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek, close to the tooth. 

3. A Knocked-Out Tooth

If you ever lose a tooth to an accident or injury, pick it up by the crown (the part of the tooth you can see when you smile), and rinse it with warm water if it’s dirty. DO NOT SCRUB IT. Without pushing, gently place the tooth back into the empty socket. If you cannot keep it in your mouth, put it in a cup of milk (or in water with a pinch of salt as a last resort) until you reach the dentist. Call your dentist right away! If it’s reinserted within one hour, you have a higher chance of saving the tooth. 

4. Toothaches 

Severe or unrelenting toothaches can be a sign of tooth or gum decay. Call your dentist for an appointment. Depending on the severity of your pain, you may be able to wait a few days for an appointment.

5. Broken Orthodontics 

Damaged brackets or anchors need to be repaired within a few days to ensure that your teeth do not shift, so call right away. Shifting teeth could set back your progress and keep you in your braces longer than expected. 

6. Lost or Loose Fillings or Crowns 

Because of the protection that fillings and crowns provide, you should notify the dentist right away if any of your restorations have been damaged. Avoid overly sugary foods, as they can cause pain, and be sure to keep your mouth clean to prevent infections and tooth decay.

7. Dental Abscesses

These painful, pimple-like spots on your gums are pockets of infected pus. They are especially dangerous when they surround the root of a tooth. Infections can spread from your mouth to other parts of your body, so it is important to get an abscess checked out right away.

8. Object Stuck Between or Around Teeth 

If there’s something stuck in your teeth, you can try to dislodge the item gently with dental floss. Avoid using sharp instruments like toothpicks, as they can damage the surrounding teeth or cause lacerations on the gums and cheeks. If you’re unable to remove the debris, call your dentist for help. 

9. Excessive Bleeding or Pain After Oral Surgery 

While some bleeding and pain is normal after oral surgery (like dental implants) excessive bleeding or overwhelming pain is not. Contact your dentist right away, or visit the emergency room. 

10. Cuts in the Cheeks or Gums 

If a cut inside your mouth does not stop bleeding after 15-20 minutes of applying direct pressure, contact your dentist right away or visit the emergency room.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Care

Because most dental offices only hold daytime business hours, many people assume that dental care can wait until the office is open. While some things can wait, there are certain situations where you should visit an emergency room or urgent care clinic. 

  • Excessively high fevers (body temperatures over 103º F, or fevers over 102º F that last more than 2 days). 
  • Continuous bleeding after 20 minutes of direct pressure.
  • A knocked out tooth—remember, you only have 1 hour before the chances of saving it goes down!


Attentive Dental Care in Prescott 

Having a dental emergency is scary enough—visiting a dental office should not be. That is why at Hicks Dental Group we strive to create a welcoming and kind environment for both ordinary and emergency dental needs. Our highly trained staff provides excellent dental care, and can help you with any problem, big or small. Contact us today to make an appointment.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (4/21/23). Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash.