12 Common Dental Emergencies and What to Do About Them

What are the 12 common dental emergencies and their solutions?
04 Jan 2021

Emergency dental situations aren’t just caused by an accident. While accidents certainly contribute to dental emergencies, there are also cases where you might need emergency dental treatment and not even realize it. This might sound unlikely, but you have to keep in mind that what may start out like a seemingly harmless tooth discomfort can quickly turn into extreme pain and risk for serious infection. Here, we list the 12 most common dental emergencies and what you can do about them.

Common Symptoms of Dental Emergencies

First, let’s take a quick look at some of the common symptoms of a dental emergency:

  • You are experiencing severe pain.
  • You suffer a traumatic injury to the teeth, mouth, or jaw.
  • You have severe swelling of the mouth, face, or neck.
  • You have uncontrollable bleeding from your mouth.

For traumatic injury, immediate attention is required. However, the other symptoms need attention as soon as possible to avoid an emergency situation requiring immediate care.

Common Dental Emergencies

Here are the most common dental emergencies:

1. Tooth pain

Only you can judge how severe tooth pain is. To be safe, though, if you experience tooth pain that doesn’t go away, always remember it can mean you have a serious problem that requires dental treatment. If you experience pain, you should:

  • Brush and floss around the area to see if you can remove trapped food that might be causing pain.
  • Apply a cold compress to your face where you are feeling the pain to help ease the throbbing.
  • Try over-the-counter pain medication.

If the pain persists, call our office so we can assess the situation and recommend treatments if required.

2. Broken tooth

If you break your tooth, even if it doesn’t hurt, call our office right away so we can get you in to have a look. In the meantime, you should:

  • Swish some warm water in your mouth and spit into a glass to see if there are any tooth fragments.
  • Save the fragments to bring to your dental appointment.
  • If you are bleeding, apply gauze to the area.
  • Apply a cold compress to help reduce swelling and ease pain.

Once you come to the office, we will assess the damage and let you know what restoration is recommended.

3. Abscess

An abscess is always an emergency. Why? Because it is a serious and painful infection that if left untreated can spread not only to your surrounding teeth and gums, but throughout your body. If you are experiencing pain, and note a sore or severe redness on your gum, it could be an abscessed tooth. In this case, call our office right away to set up an emergency appointment. It is important we treat the infection as soon as possible, often with antibiotics.

4. Dislodged tooth

A dislodged tooth is not a lost tooth. Also known as an avulsed, luxated, or extruded tooth, your tooth has been pushed either deeper into the socket, or out of the socket to some degree. This occurs when you experience impact and injury to the tooth. Call our office right away and then:

  • Apply a cold compress to your cheek in the affected area.
  • Use an over-the-counter pain-reliever.

At your appointment, we will assess the damage and decide what treatment is best. This usually includes either a splint, wire bracket, or root canal to save the tooth.

5. Knocked-out tooth

As the name implies, a knocked-out tooth is completely dislodged from its socket. This is another case where you should see a dentist without delay. To help improve the odds of us saving the tooth:

  • Retrieve the tooth and gently rinse it under running water.
  • Do not scrub the tooth even if it is dirty.
  • Place the tooth in a container with contact lens solution or cold milk.
  • Bring the tooth to the dental office.

If the tooth is in good condition, and you do not rub it to remove any of the tissue, there is a chance we can replace it so it can “grow back” into its socket.

6. Lost filling

Old fillings can eventually fall out. If you notice a filling is loose or is actually missing and leaving a hole in your tooth, set up an appointment right away. Although it might not hurt in all cases, it does leave your tooth open to further decay. While waiting for your appointment you can:

  • Go to the drug store to get dental cement.
  • Apply the cement to the hole.
  • If you can’t find dental cement, you can actually use sugarless gum.

Keep the cavity filled until your appointment. We will prepare the tooth by removing signs of decay and then refill it.

7. Lost crown

This is another case where you should call us for an appointment right away. For a lost crown you should:

  • Retrieve the crown.
  • Rinse it off.
  • See if you can put the crown back in place with dental cement or toothpaste.
  • If it hurts, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

We will assess the tooth and crown to see if we can simply re-cement it, or if a new crown is required.

8. Tissue injury and bleeding

If you experience an accident or notice bleeding from tissue in your mouth, this could or could not be an emergency. If it is due to an accident, check to see if you can tell where the bleeding is. If there isn’t too serious an injury, you can:

  • Gently rinse your mouth out with water.
  • If the bleeding continues, apply pressure with gauze and give us a call.

If the bleeding stops, it could be superficial and not require attention. However, if it bleeds again, or becomes painful, you should contact us and we can set up an appointment to check the cause.

9. Swollen mouth, face, or neck

This is common with infection. Therefore, you should call the office to set up an appointment if the swelling does not go away or if you are also experiencing pain.

10. Broken braces

Broken wire for your braces should be fixed right away. In the meantime you can:

  • Try to move it into a comfortable position.
  • If this doesn’t work, cover the wire with dental wax; if you don’t have dental wax, protect your cheek with a piece of gauze until your appointment.

Never cut the wire, as it could cause a lot of damage if you inadvertently swallow it!

11. You get something stuck between your teeth

While this might not seem so serious, if you leave something lodged between your teeth, it can cause an infection. If you can’t remove it yourself with floss, don’t try using anything else, as you can cause more harm than good. Instead, set up an appointment and we can remove it for you before it causes damage to your teeth and gums.

12. Loose braces

If you notice that part of your braces is loose, try to re-attach it with dental wax, then call our office. If the band comes right off, keep it for your appointment so we can see if it can be re-cemented or needs to be replaced.

The best ways to avoid dental emergencies are to wear proper protection when participating in sports and have regular dental checkups. If you have a dental emergency, contact Guelph Family Dentistry right away.

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Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi
Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi

Dr. Omar got his BDS degree in 2002 from the University of Baghdad. He has also completed a master degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Malaya, Malaysia in 2009. Dr. Omar got his DDS in 2013 in Canada after passing the National Dental Examination Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. Read More

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