What is a dental emergency and how do I deal with one?

January 22, 2021

A dental emergency is considered to be any dental issue requiring immediate attention to stop bleeding, relieve severe pain, save a tooth, or prevent an infection from spreading. A dental emergency is something you shouldn’t ignore, as it can lead to permanent damage, extensive treatment, or more serious outcomes. 

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, see a dentist right away. As a dental clinic in Calgary, we have emergency dentists you can turn to for urgent dental care during and after hours. 

Dental emergencies explained

Dental emergencies explained

Types of dental emergencies

  • Toothaches - A toothache is not considered an emergency if the pain is not severe. However, if the toothache is excruciating and accompanied by a high fever, swelling, or bumps on the gums, contact your Calgary dental clinic immediately or head to the ER.

 

  • Cracked tooth - A cracked tooth can turn into broken teeth if it’s not addressed right away. If you notice a line going up your tooth, call your dentist immediately.

 

  • Broken teeth - Broken teeth are a dental emergency if you notice a lump of reddish flesh (dental pulp) poking out, or the injury has left sharp fragments that are hurting the inside of your mouth. A chipped tooth without severe pain is typically not considered a dental emergency. 

 

  • Bleeding - While minimal bleeding after flossing is not an emergency, blood in your saliva can indicate something more serious like advanced gum disease or oral cancer. If you’re experiencing bleeding that won’t stop after a dental procedure, seek immediate help from an emergency dentist. 

 

  • Dental abscess - An abscessed tooth is caused by a bacterial infection and occurs when there is a collection of pus inside the teeth, in the gums, or in the bone that holds the teeth in place. A dental abscess is a serious emergency and is potentially life-threatening as the infection can spread. 

What should do I during a dental emergency?

If you’re experiencing severe pain, bleeding, or you’ve lost a tooth, head to the ER as soon as possible and call your dentist. Often, your dental clinic will have a number for after-hours emergency care. Ahead of getting to the ER or calling your dentist, here are some steps you can take during a dental emergency:

  • Toothache - Rinse your mouth with warm water. If your tooth is causing swelling, use a cold compress on the outside of your cheek or mouth. Take acetaminophen to try to ease the pain. 

 

  • Knocked-out tooth - If your tooth has come out, pick it up by the crown without touching the root and carefully rinse. If possible, place the tooth back into the socket. If you’re not able to reinsert it back into the socket, put the tooth in a glass of milk and get to your dentist as soon as possible. If you act fast, you have a better chance of saving your tooth.

 

  • Cracked or fractured tooth - Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Take acetaminophen to ease the discomfort and avoid using a numbing gel or pain killer. 

How to avoid dental emergencies

While we can’t completely predict or avoid accidents and injury, we can take steps to reduce the risk of a dental emergency by taking good care of our teeth and gums. Daily brushing and flossing combined with regular check-ups and cleanings help combat gum disease, cavities, and other oral conditions.  

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