What’s Considered a Dental Emergency?

We all know that taking care of our teeth is important. But do you know when a dental issue becomes an emergency that requires immediate attention? Knowing the difference can help you get the right care when you need it most.

Cavities and Toothaches

By age 17, over three-quarters of Americans have had at least one cavity, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. While cavities are common, a severe toothache caused by a cavity may indicate an emergency. Throbbing, unrelenting pain that disrupts sleep or prevents you from eating properly signals the need for emergency dental care. The same goes for a cracked or chipped tooth causing sharp pain. Don’t wait with this level of discomfort; see a dentist right away for treatment.

Knocked-Out Teeth

Losing an entire tooth is always an emergency. With prompt emergency dental care, some knocked-out teeth can be replanted. Try to find the tooth and hold it by the crown (the top part). Rinse it gently without scrubbing. If possible, put it back in the socket. If that’s not possible, store it in a cup of milk until you get to the dentist. Time is critical, so seek help immediately to try and save the tooth.


An abscess is a pus-filled infection under the gums or in the root of a tooth. Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold food or drinks, swollen gums, and intense throbbing pain signal an abscess. The infection can spread quickly, so emergency dental care is vital. The dentist will drain the pus, perform a root canal or tooth extraction, and prescribe antibiotics. Leaving an abscess untreated can have serious health consequences.


In our professional experience, bleeding that doesn’t stop after 10 to 15 minutes of solid pressure needs prompt emergency dental care. While some blood after an extraction is normal, excessive bleeding could indicate an artery or vein was damaged and requires treatment. Bleeding due to gum disease also requires professional attention to prevent further gum deterioration. Don’t hesitate to call for help controlling serious bleeding in the mouth.

Facial Swelling

Sudden swelling of the face, cheeks, or gums warrants an immediate emergency dental care visit. Swelling can accompany a dental abscess, infection, or allergic reaction. It may also arise after oral surgery. Swelling that restricts breathing or swallowing becomes an emergency. Get help right away to minimize complications and restore proper breathing and swallowing.

Dental emergencies cause severe discomfort and can worsen without rapid treatment. Know the signs that signal the need for emergency dental care. Whether you’re experiencing a toothache, knocked-out tooth, abscess, bleeding, or swelling, seek prompt professional help within hours to address the issue. Stay calm, and contact Breakwater Dental to get the urgent care you need now.

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