Know When Your Tooth Pain is Actually a Dental Emergency


Protect your oral health by knowing how to handle these dental problems.

We are supposed to visit the dentist every six months, but life can get in the way, and sometimes our dental visits get pushed to the bottom of our priorities. If this happens, don’t worry! You can always catch up with your dental visits, but it is best to be on top of your dental health to avoid common oral health issues like a toothache or periodontal issues.

There are many uncomfortable dental situations that can arise. But how do you know when you need an emergency appointment? We recommend seeing your dentist if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort as most persistent dental issues will not resolve on their own.

We’ve compiled a list of 6 of the most common problems that constitute a dental emergency and what you should do if you experience them.

1. Dental Avulsion (Tooth Loss)

A tooth that is accidentally knocked out is a time sensitive event and is considered a true dental emergency since you can ultimately lose that tooth. If you experience trauma to the mouth and your tooth is knocked out, you need to contact your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment.

Your dentist will always do their absolute best to preserve your natural teeth and, in the event of a knocked-out tooth, they have the best chance of saving it if you reach a dental office within 60 minutes. While there are always restorative options to replace missing teeth, like a dental implant, your own, natural tooth is always the better option.

If you lose a tooth, try and clean it off—avoid touching the root—and place it back into the tooth socket. If you are unable to place it back into the socket, put the tooth into milk or a saline solution to keep it hydrated. Avoid putting the tooth in water as it can actually damage the tooth root cells! If your child loses a baby tooth, do not re-implant this tooth as it can damage the permanent tooth bud.

2. Facial Cellulitis

A facial cellulitis or facial swelling is considered a dental emergency and you should contact your dentist immediately for a visit. If you have facial swelling, this means you have a serious dental infection that requires immediate attention to prevent future dental and medical problems. A dental infection can arise from numerous conditions, but the most common is untreated tooth decay and poor oral hygiene. Dental swelling can lead to serious health complications since it arises from bacterial infection and can lead to sepsis and, in rare cases, death.

Signs you have a dental infection are swelling, fever, a toothache, a foul or bitter taste in the mouth, or difficulty eating. You should not try to treat the infection yourself as it can progress quickly and may require antibiotics or a dental extraction.

3. Cracked and Chipped Teeth

A chipped or cracked tooth will require a visit to your dentist to repair it. Delaying treatment can risk the damage getting worse or the tooth breaking altogether. If you have severe pain from the cracked or chipped tooth, you may need immediate attention to help restore the tooth and give you pain relief.

If you don’t have any pain from a cracked or chipped tooth, you can make a regular dental visit for the tooth to get evaluated and treated. It is important to keep the area clean and avoid hard or crunchy foods that can cause further damage. Ignoring a tooth that is compromised can cause pain and/or infection, and ultimately loss of the tooth.

A chipped tooth can result from chronic grinding or a small cavity that is weakening the tooth and starting to cause pieces of enamel to fracture off.  Regular dental visits are key to identifying and treating these issues early before they start to cause you pain or create bigger (and more expensive) problems.

4. Loose or Displaced Teeth

If you experience loose or displaced teeth from trauma, it is important to get seen immediately to ensure there are no serious issues like jaw fractures or the need for a splint. If you have a tooth that is severely out of place, it can become necrotic and require a root canal to prevent tooth loss.

Some people have loose teeth because of severe periodontal issues that weaken the surrounding structures of the tooth. If you don’t attend routine dental visits, you can have undiagnosed periodontal issues that will cause long term dental problems. It is best to make an appointment to get your loose teeth addressed; you may require periodontal treatment like scaling and root planing or surgery to preserve your teeth.

5. Loss of a Crown

The loss of a dental crown can occur for several reasons. In some cases you may bite into something that dislodges the crown and at other times the crown can fail due to underlying tooth decay. If you have a crown that comes off, keep your tooth as clean as possible and store your crown in a safe place so you don’t lose it. Oftentimes, your dentist can simply cement it back on, but you may require a new crown if that is not possible. It is best to make a dental appointment as soon as you can to restore your tooth and avoid infection and tooth loss.

6. Broken Dental Appliances

Dental appliances like partial dentures or full dentures do occasionally break. If this happens we don’t recommend you try to repair the appliance yourself as you can do further damage. Call the office to make an appointment so your appliance can be repaired or replaced.

No one wants to experience a dental emergency, but sometimes these things happen. The important thing is knowing when you shouldn’t ignore your symptoms and when you should make an appointment for immediate treatment. If you are experiencing any pain or worrying symptoms, feel free to call our office or make an appointment using our handy online form. We can help you get your smile back on track!