Dental Emergencies – Reasons, Procedures, Prevention

Excerpt: Dental emergencies are generally pretty serious issues if one should happen to you...
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Dental emergencies are generally pretty serious issues if one should happen to you. Since you only get one set of permanent adult teeth, if any of them are damaged or at risk of falling out, you should consider it an emergency.

Dental Emergencies – What classifies as one?

A dental emergency is anytime you are put at significant risk by an oral health issue. There are a lot of different dental emergencies, here are a few of the most common ones:
  • Loose/missing teeth – Adult teeth should never be loose or fall out for any reason.
  • Severe toothache – If the pain is severe enough, it can qualify as an emergency.
  • Bleeding or/and sore gums – Significant bleeding is an indication of gingivitis or infection.
  • Swollen painful jaw – Infections in the gums and jaw can cause inflammation.
  • Dental abscess – The inner pulp of your tooth has become infected.
  • Severe sudden tooth sensitivity – This could mean your tooth has exposed dental pulp or roots.
  • Broken/Fracture/Chipped teeth – This could result in extra damage to the gums or mouth, you’re too also may become infected if an opening to the inner tooth occurs.

How can I prevent a dental emergency?

Some dental emergencies can’t be prevented, for example, if you get into a car accident, or slip and fall on the road. However, most dental emergencies have a simple, easy way to prevent them, it just involves doing a standard oral care routine twice a day every day:

Clean your teeth like a pro, read the “Ultimate Teeth Cleaning Guide“.

  • Less plaque build-up – Plaque can be brushed off, but if left alone it will harden to tartar.
  • Less acid build-up – Bacteria in your mouth produce acid from carb digestion.
  • Fresher breath – Food particles in your mouth will go bad and can cause infections.
  • Healthy gums – Gum disease (gingivitis) can be prevented with good oral care.
Dental emergencies are also considerably more expensive when compared to the cost of only having to brush and floss every day.


Most dental emergencies can be prevented by brushing flossing, and using mouthwash twice a day, every day.

Can any clinic treat a dental emergency?

It depends on the severity and complexity of the emergency. General dentists can handle a wide array of dental procedures since they often have to. However, if the dental emergency has extra complications involved or the dentist is unsure that they can complete it, they will most likely refer you to a specialist.


There are a number of advanced oral care specialists:


  • Orthodontist – Specializes in correcting misaligned teeth.
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon – Works on the hard and soft tissues in your mouth.
  • Periodontist – Focuses on gum health and diseases.
  • Prosthodontist – Experts in teeth that have advanced decay or damage.
  • Endodontists – They are concerned with the inside of the tooth.

6 Different Dental Emergencies

Since dental emergencies is a very broad classification, it’s a good idea to go over specific circumstances that are so bad they have to be considered an emergency.

Severe Toothache

People get toothaches often for a lot of reasons, generally, they are not considered a “severe toothache”. A regular toothache may hurt, but it shouldn’t be disruptive and will probably go away soon. A severe toothache will cause a significant amount of pain and will prevent them from doing simple day-to-day tasks. For example, if you can’t talk because your tooth hurts that much it’s time to go to the dentist. It’s important to remember that pain is relative both in severity and expression that pain. If your teeth are causing you pain, try not to procrastinate or feel self-conscious about it. 


Call your dentist now to get it checked out.

Chipped/fractured/broken/knocked out teeth

Anytime a tooth becomes chipped or broken in any way it’s a big issue, especially considering you only have 1 set of adult teeth. If the tooth/teeth broke, that generally means either the impact was hard enough to fracture a healthy tooth, or the tooth may have been weakened.
Teeth can break because of impact, either external (falling off a bike, getting punched, car accident, etc.) Or the break can occur from an internal source (teeth grinding, chewing a hard food). Even if the tooth break doesn’t cause pain, or it fractures into smaller pieces, go to your dentist. The toot could become infected, or damage the inside of your mouth.
Gaps in your teeth can be a very expensive problem since you may need a bridge, implants, or a crown to fix the damage, all of these come with a financial cost.

Lost filling or crown

It’s possible that your teeth could have trauma so that the filling or a crown might come loose, but the tooth will remain undamaged. Crowns and fillings use materials that bond them to the tooth, these materials are incredibly strong but the impact may be stronger, or the dental appliance wasn’t inserted correctly.
If your crown or filling is knocked out, you should get it repaired immediately. Your teeth could become even more damaged, or they could be infected. Crowns are often used to cover openings as the finisher to a procedure, so if there is an opening, it will be exposed.

Broken orthodontics

If your goal is to re-align your teeth, this can be an expensive and lengthy procedure. If you have braces and you managed to damage them to the point of breaking, then the tension will be gone and your teeth will move out of position. For dentures to work effectively they have to bind your teeth and apply pressure for the entire duration of use, if they lose any tension it will cost you time and money.

Dental Abscess

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection. If you have been experiencing severe tooth pain, fevers, a foul taste in your mouth, difficulty swallowing, or difficulty opening the mouth, it could be an abscess. A dental abscess is a very serious condition and should never be ignored.

Bleeding and pain after a tooth extraction

There will always be some bleeding after an extraction, and probably some discomfort. However, if it persists even for an hour after the extraction you should consider calling your dentist if you can. The prolonged bleeding or pain could be an indication that something is wrong.


Some common dental emergencies are:

  • Severe toothache – Toothache that causes disruptive pain.
  • Broken/Knocked-out teeth – Any time a tooth is damaged/knocked loose.
  • Lost filling or crown – This can cause infection or further damage to that tooth.
  • Broken Orthodontics – Can delay the teeth straightening process, and is very expensive.
  • Dental abscess – An infection of the inner pulp of the tooth.
  • Bleeding and pain after the tooth extraction – Get help if it continues for a significant amount of time after the extraction.

Dental Emergencies – How to prevent them

Sometimes even bad things happen to the healthiest smiles and can cause damage. However, if you want to try to keep your smile at its best, try these tactics to prevent an emergency:

  • Brush, floss, mouth wash twice a day – Keeps your teeth clean, takes care of extra food particles and plaque build up.
  • Wear protective gear – Helmets, mouth guards, etc. are all essential for keeping a full set of teeth.
  • Regular dental checkups – See your dentist 2 times a year to keep up on long term cleaning.
  • Eat smarter – More healthy foods (vegetables, lean meats, fruits, etc.). Less bad food (candies, gummies, chips, pop etc.)
  • Unclench the jaw – Pay attention to see if your grinding your teeth, if you do happen to notice make an active effort to stop.

What do dental emergencies cost?

There’s a big difference in cost for dental emergency procedures. We have some of the fees listed on our dental fees page, you can seem here.
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