A Look at Unexpected Dental Emergencies


As with other types of emergencies, dental emergencies are never expected. Unfortunately, they often happen at the worst times, and dental emergencies can be excruciatingly painful. Below is a look at common dental emergencies and some situations that may be urgent but are not actually a dental emergency.

What is a True Dental Emergency?

If something happens to the mouth, teeth, or gums, it may be hard to determine if what happened is a true dental emergency requiring emergency dental care services. The problem could be a true emergency, or it could be an urgent situation that can wait until the dentist’s office opens for their normal business hours. Here are some questions a person can ask themselves that will help determine if the situation is a true emergency:

  • Is the mouth bleeding and won’t stop?
  • Is the pain unbearable?
  • Is the swelling severe?
  • Has a permanent tooth been knocked out?
  • Has the jaw been injured?
  • Are there any bulges, knots, or swelling in the gums?
  • Was there severe trauma involved?

Is The Answer to The Above Questions Yes?

If the answer to any of the questions above is yes, the situation is a true dental emergency. If pain is severe, the bleeding won’t stop, or a person could have lasting damage if they don’t receive immediate treatment, the situation is a true emergency and requires emergency dental services. On the other hand, if the pain is mild, the swelling is mild, and there are no concerns about permanent damage, treatment can likely wait until the next business day.

In a true emergency, a person should not feel bad about contacting their dentist for emergency care after hours. Dentists care about their patients and would rather their patients contact them for care now rather than having lasting permanent damage to the mouth, gums, or teeth. In addition, it is often easier to save the teeth and repair damage if treatment is received sooner rather than later.

What Are Some Examples of Dental Situations That Aren’t Emergencies?

Often, a person can experience dental issues that are bothersome and mildly discomforting, but they are not true dental emergencies. Below are some examples of situations where visiting a dentist is needed but the situation is not a true emergency:

  • A crown or bridge has been cracked;
  • A night guard or retainer has broken;
  • A crown or filling has fallen out;
  • A person is experiencing a mild toothache;
  • Food has become stuck between the teeth;
  • The teeth are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures;
  • A person suspects an abscess;
  • A tooth has chipped or broken; or
  • A person’s dentures or partials are ill-fitting, causing pain or irritating the gums.

How to Find Emergency Dental Services?

While some people get lucky and experience a dental emergency during normal business hours, other people may have their emergency spring up after hours, on the weekends, or during holidays. Many dentists offer their patients an after-hours emergency phone number, or they have an answering service that can contact the dentist for after-hour emergencies. If a person’s dentist does not offer emergency services, they may need to do a quick internet search for local dental emergency services near them.

Amelia Puga

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