A Guide to Urgent Dental Care: What Is Considered a Dental Emergency?

Aug 18, 2022

Did you know that around 3.5 billion people suffer from a type of dental disease? Sometimes a dentist might discover a dental problem during a routine office visit. Unfortunately, some oral health issues arise at inconvenient times, such as during the weekend or holidays. 

Many different dental issues might require urgent dental care. It can be challenging to know when a person needs to see a dentist immediately or if they can wait until the next available appointment. Knowing the warning signs is key to preventing complications and the risk of additional issues. 

This guide will discuss what you need to know about dental emergencies and when to get urgent dental care. 

What Is Urgent Dental Care?

Urgent dental care focuses on treating dental conditions that need immediate attention. Emergency dental care is required to alleviate pain and limit the patient’s risk of infection. 

Not every dental problem is an emergency. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you need an emergency dentist:

  • Is your mouth bleeding?
  • Do you have an infection in your mouth?
  • Did you lose a tooth?
  • Are any of your teeth loose?
  • Is your pain severe?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, you might need emergency dental care. Contacting a qualified emergency dentist is essential instead of heading to the emergency room. The emergency room isn’t equipped to treat dental problems effectively and should be a last resort. 

Common Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can apply to your face’s jaw, mouth, or bones. You shouldn’t wait to find an emergency dentist if you’re experiencing the following situations. 


Abscesses can form when bacteria build against your tooth. The bacteria will cause a pocket of pus to grow. An abscess can quickly grow, getting as high as the top of the root of your tooth. 

Not treating a dental abscess can negatively impact your tooth. Mediastinitis, which is the irritation and swelling of the chest cavity, can form.

Additionally, your body’s airway can get compromised. You might need to get intubated so you can breathe. The infection in your mouth can also move to your brain. 

Some symptoms of an abscess include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Foul taste in your mouth 
  • Sensitivity to hot/cold beverages
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing 

Tooth abscesses can sometimes form if you don’t treat a dental cavity. You can decrease the likelihood of developing an abscess by scheduling routine dental exams


Many people consider a minor toothache a small dental problem. They might think that the toothache will disappear on its own. However, a minor toothache could be a more significant dental issue symptom. 

A toothache might be the result of an infection or cavity. Toothaches can also get caused by impacted wisdom teeth, exposed roots, or a dry socket. 

Pay attention to whether to pain is sharp or dull. You might also develop swelling, fever, bad breath, or tooth sensitivity. Take note of all your symptoms so you can explain them to your dentist. 

Knocked Out Tooth

Sports, car accidents, or other activities can cause you to get a tooth knocked out. If your tooth gets knocked out, it’s essential to retrieve it as quickly as possible. You want to avoid the tooth getting damaged. 

Be sure to pick up the knocked-out tooth by the crown, not the root. Carefully rinse the tooth with water. Put the tooth in a container filled with milk and take it to your emergency dental appointment. 

If the tooth is in good condition and you save it, you might not need a dental implant. Your emergency dentist will determine the best course of action to replace your missing tooth. 

Difficulty Chewing 

There are many reasons why you might experience pain while chewing. Regardless of the cause, difficulty chewing is a problem that needs to get addressed immediately. Having issues with normal bodily function are considered a dental emergency. 

For example, you might experience pain when eating or drinking hot/cold items. The integrity of the enamel of your teeth might be compromised. As your teeth’s enamel wears away, your tooth’s nerves will get exposed. 

If your teeth hurt when you bite down, your teeth might be damaged or cracked. You might also have an infection that’s irritating your teeth’s nerves and causing inflammation. 

Swelling of Jaw or Mouth 

Swelling of any kind might be a symptom of a severe dental problem. It’s hazardous if you’re also experiencing fever, tooth sensitivity, and pain. As we said earlier, you might be experiencing a dental abscess. 

You should seek dental care immediately if your mouth or jaw is swollen. Getting the issue remedied is crucial before it spreads to other areas of your body. 

Broken or Chipped Tooth

You might chip or break a tooth in an accident. If you can, save the pieces of your broken or chipped tooth. 

Once you’ve safely retrieved the pieces, rinse your mouth with warm water. Put a cold compress on your face before heading to the dentist. Let your dentist know if you have other symptoms, like bleeding gums. 

Steps to Take During a Dental Emergency

It’s important to stay calm if you’re experiencing a dental emergency. Contact your dentist or closest emergency dentist to seek care. 

Don’t opt for home remedies to relieve your symptoms. You might make the problem worse. 

You should also gargle with salt water before taking pain pills. Salt is a natural disinfectant. Swish the salt water mixture in your mouth and spit it out. 

You can also apply ice or a cold compress if you’re experiencing pain or facial swelling. Have a friend or family member take you to your dentist as soon as possible. 

Find a Qualified Dentist for Urgent Dental Care

You need to get urgent dental care if you have a dental emergency. Even if you’re unsure if your problem constitutes an emergency, you must call a dentist to explain your situation. They can provide you with expert medical advice and help you treat your dental problem. 

Toothologie is here to help you with your dental emergencies. Don’t wait to seek medical attention. Contact us today to schedule an emergency or general dentistry appointment.