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Dental Emergencies You Need to Know About

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Dental Emergencies You Need to Know About

4 min read


Dental emergencies are issues that involve the teeth and their supporting structures. Read the article to know the common dental emergencies.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anuthanyaa. R

Published At June 23, 2021
Reviewed AtAugust 2, 2023

What Are Dental Emergencies?

When a person's tooth is knocked out on a Sunday evening or if there is a swelling on the face that develops all of a sudden or the modus operandi that the patient will follow if there is severe toothache during the middle of the night are considered to be some of the common dental-related emergencies one can face. Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone at any time.

Ignoring a dental emergency can sometimes result in permanent loss of teeth and associated structures. Hence, it is important to know what common dental emergencies are and what should be done during such times. Some of the common dental emergencies are:

  1. Severe and constant tooth pain.

  2. Broken or fractured tooth with bleeding.

  3. Knocked-out tooth or teeth.

  4. Swelling of cheeks or jaws associated with teeth or gum pain.

  5. A heavy blow or trauma to the face.

1. Broken or Fractured Tooth With Bleeding:

Accidental fall or trauma to the tooth can result in a broken tooth with bleeding. This may cause severe pain as the nerve of the tooth is affected in this case. The tooth or teeth will be painful to touch, and there may be associated lip and gum lacerations. Food consumption becomes extremely difficult, and the tooth may even be sensitive to cold air or air conditioners.

Management - Commonly used pain killers will not be effective for this condition, and it is mandatory to approach emergency dental care. Immediate pain relief is possible only by dental professionals in a clinic or hospital setup. Cold compression can give some relief in the meantime.

2. Knocked-Out Tooth or Teeth:

A sudden trip over can result in tooth or teeth being knocked out. This is an emergency condition, and one needs to be attended by a dental professional as soon as possible. If the knocked-out teeth can be replanted within 20 to 30 minutes, there is a high chance for them to survive. Any delay may cause permanent loss of the teeth.

Here are a few tips for preserving the teeth before reaching a dentist:

  1. Retrieve the tooth by grasping only the crown surface and not by its root.

  2. Handle it very delicately while picking it up, and do not touch the root of the tooth, only the crown (chewing surface).

  3. If it is soiled, gently wash it with clean water. Use only plain water to gently rinse off any dirt.

  4. Do not use any soap or chemicals.

  5. Don't scrub hard or dry the tooth, and don't wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth.

  6. Place the tooth back in the socket right away, if possible. Try to reposition the tooth back into the socket immediately.

  7. Gently push it down into the socket with your fingers by handling the crown alone, or place it above the socket and slowly close your mouth.

  8. Hold the tooth in its position carefully until you reach the clinic, or you could gently bite down on it if comfortable.

  9. The tooth must remain moist at all times. It can be achieved by keeping it, either in your mouth or, if it cannot be replaced in the socket by yourself, put it in a cup of cold milk, or place it carefully inside your mouth right next to your cheek.

3. Swelling Of the Jaw or Face Associated With Teeth or Gum Pain:

This may happen all of a sudden when there is an untreated cavity in the mouth for a long time. The swelling may be an abscess or even a space infection. This is a serious condition and requires immediate attention from a dental professional. Bleeding gums may seem very insignificant, but it is, in fact, a dental emergency that is an indication of an underlying larger issue. Hence, you will need to get this issue addressed right away, so you get to the root of the problem. Rinse with salt water for temporary relief and for the swelling to subside. Ignoring this condition can cause serious complications and even be life-threatening at times. Such conditions can be managed only in a clinic or at a hospital.

4. A Heavy Blow or Trauma to the Face:

This is also a serious condition that needs to be addressed immediately in the emergency room. A heavy trauma can cause a fracture of the jaw bones and associated structures. Apply a cold compress on the way to the facility to reduce swelling. If not attended immediately, it may cause serious complications in the long term. Mal-union or improper union of bones can happen if the fractured bones are not brought together immediately. This can lead to poor function and appearance of the individual, and it is hard to make the correction at a later stage.

5. Severe and Constant Tooth Pain:

Severe tooth pain should never be neglected, especially when it is constant and does not go away. This may be due to an underlying tooth or gum infection. It is characteristic for such a toothache to start late in the evening and become unbearable at night. It is also triggered or aggravated while taking cold, hot, or sweet substances. Most of the time, it becomes impossible to chew or drink from that side. Severe tooth pain that makes it nearly impossible for you to eat, of course, warrants an emergency dental visit. A toothache can arise from many causes, including:

Rinse with a warm saltwater mix to help dislodge any food particles that may be causing irritation. In case of a broken filling causing pain, cover the exposed area with gauze if the lost filling has left your tooth with any sharp edges. Often, same-day emergency treatment is suggested, or probably, even an emergency tooth extraction may be required if your tooth cannot be saved. If this goes untreated for too long, bacteria can spread throughout your bloodstream, make you very sick, and lead to serious health complications.

What Are the Steps to Prevent Dental Emergencies?

You can take the following simple steps to prevent a dental emergency. They are,

  1. Brush two times a day.

  2. Floss every day.

  3. Visit your dentist for a general check-up and cleaning every six months.

  4. Complete recommended dental treatments on time.

  5. Avoid using your teeth to open cans and bottles.

  6. Eat a balanced diet.

  7. Do not chew on hard foods or items.

  8. Wear a mouthguard while playing contact sports.


In order to avoid complications and unwanted dental emergencies, do not hesitate to call your dentist at the earliest. It is better to be safe by reaching the dentist at the early stages of any disease, and your dentist will also prefer to see you with a smile full of healthy teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Manage Common Dental Emergencies?

In a dental emergency, the best thing to do is contact the nearest dentist. Depending on the symptoms, the dentist may recommend certain things that can be done to manage the symptoms at home or call the patient to the clinic for treatment. However, with dental problems, waiting too long can cause more discomfort and pain. Hence it is important to seek dental advice immediately.


What Counts as a Dental Emergency?

Dental emergencies are any situation that makes one feel his life is in immediate danger. Some symptoms of a dental emergency include broken jaw, bleeding, unexplained tooth pain, swelling of jaw or mouth, and knocked out tooth.


What are the Five Common Dental Conditions?

The most common dental conditions include:
- Tooth decay or dental caries.
- Bad breath.
- Gum diseases such as swollen, bleeding gums.
- Oral cancer.
- Mouth sores or oral ulcers.


When Are Dental Problems an Emergency?

Dental problems that indicate an emergency fall into four categories: bleeding, pain, swelling, and trauma (broken, loose, or knocked out tooth). An infected or abscessed tooth causing severe pain and difficulty eating also need immediate dental treatment..


Does a Black Tooth Need to Be Treated in an Emergency?

A black tooth can indicate a decayed or dead tooth or be due to stains or marks from food. It is not considered a dental emergency unless it is associated with pain. The decayed tooth needs to be treated, but not as an emergency.


Is Cracked Filling Treated as an Emergency?

A tooth filling cracks or breaks is generally not considered a dental emergency. However, seeing a dentist as soon as possible is crucial as dental caries or tooth decay under the filling can get worse or spread, resulting in an infection.


Is Crown Falling off a Dental Emergency?

Yes, a dental crown falling off a tooth is a dental emergency if there are signs of infection. The underlying tooth is weak and sensitive, and it may feel painful. In addition, the tooth is fragile, and tooth fracture and other complications are possible if left untreated.


What Is the Most Difficult and Complicated Dental Procedure?

It varies from case to case; there are simple and complicated cases. Some of the complicated cases require full-mouth rehabilitation, which requires replacing many teeth from both jaws.


Which Is the Most Common Dental Traumatic Injury?

Fractured teeth and luxated teeth are the most common dental injuries. Fractured teeth can cause the pulp at the center of the teeth to become infected and cause severe pain. Luxated or dislodged teeth can either come out of the tooth socket or get further into the socket. It can be stabilized and positioned correctly using splints and then, if required, can be treated with RCT (root canal treatment).


What Are the Signs of Serious Dental Problems?

Some common signs of serious dental problems include:
- Bleeding and swollen gums.
- Tooth and jaw pain.
- Loose teeth.
- Lumps in the mouth.
- Bad breath that does not go away after every possible effort.


Is a Tooth Cavity a Dental Emergency?

A tooth cavity is not a dental emergency unless associated with pain or discomfort. A tooth cavity is a hole in the tooth that occurs due to destruction caused by acids. If left untreated, they can progress deeper into the tooth, reach the pulp chamber, and cause severe infection.


What Is Tooth Avulsion?

Tooth avulsion occurs when a tooth is completely displaced from its socket. It can happen due to injuries and accidents. Typically a tooth is connected to the socket by the periodontal ligament. When tooth avulsion occurs, these ligaments get torn, knocking out the tooth from its socket. It is a dental emergency and requires immediate treatment.


Is Severe Tooth Pain Considered a Dental Emergency?

Severe tooth pain is generally due to inflammation of the pulp in the tooth’s center. Other causes of tooth pain include cavities, infected teeth, trauma, and teeth grinding (bruxism). Severe tooth pain is a dental emergency and requires immediate care by a dentist.


How Long a Broken Teeth Can Be Left in the Mouth?

Depending on the damage and decay the tooth can be left in the mouth for just a week or a couple of months. Though it is not advisable to leave a broken tooth for a long time in the mouth as it can cause pain and infection in the mouth.
Dr. Ashwin Kumar. S
Dr. Ashwin Kumar. S



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