When To Call An Emergency Dentist

With the pain, swelling, and discomfort that come from dental emergencies, it’s easy to feel alarmed. They can even lead to more serious health complications later on. But how do you know when it’s time to call an emergency dentist?

What’s the difference between a painful dental issue that can wait until morning and a health-threatening dental emergency?

If you are having a serious dental problem, we are here to help. You can contact our team at Shore Family Dentistry at

(443) 385-0285 with any questions.

To help you understand the difference and make the right decision for your health, let’s get right to how to recognize a dental emergency. 

What Is A Dental Emergency

Did you know that more than 20 percent of people have experienced oral pain in the last six months?

While oral pain can be quite common, not all of this pain is considered a dental emergency.

After all, there is quite a bit of difference between pain that needs immediate attention, pain that can wait until the following day, and discomfort that you can endure until your dentist’s next availability.

Let’s start with a few questions that can help you identify if you need an emergency dentist:

  • How severe is your pain? Two signs of a dental emergency are severe pain and bleeding.
  • Did you just lose a tooth? If you still have it, a speedy treatment could potentially save the tooth.
  • Are your teeth loose? This could be a sign for concern, as adults don’t have loose teeth – with or without pain.
  • Do you have an oral infection? Because infections or abscesses can be life-threatening, you shouldn’t wait to get this checked out.

As a rule of thumb, dental emergencies include problems related to bleeding, severe pain, and saving a tooth. Severe infections can also be considered dental emergencies.

9 Types Of Common Dental Emergencies

Apart from the urgent symptoms we’ve listed, it can be helpful to know the kind of dental situation you are dealing with.

Below we have 9 common dental emergencies with what you can do to treat them before getting to an emergency dentist.

  1. Sudden Toothache

Toothaches are our body’s way of letting us know that something isn’t right. If the tooth is sudden, then it’s a good idea to check in with your dentist to diagnose and treat it.

While waiting to visit a dentist, try the following:

  • Use a cold compress
  • Rinse mouth with saltwater
  • Try OTC pain medication for discomfort
  1. Swollen or Bleeding Gums

Occasional gum irritation or gums that bleed a little while you’re flossing may not be worth an emergency dental visit. If your gums don’t stop bleeding, however, and there is pain and swelling, that could be cause for concern. 

For swollen or bleeding gums, get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible.

  1. Swollen Jaw or Mouth

If your jaw or mouth are swollen without any explanation, this could be a sign of an infection or irritation in your lymph nodes. This should be treated by an emergency dentist as soon as possible. 

  1. Exposed Nerves

An exposed nerve happens when the tooth’s nerves become vulnerable, a painful experience that can get worse the longer you wait. 

By seeing an emergency dentist as soon as possible, you can help prevent infections, additional nerve damage, or more extensive emergency dental treatments.

  1. Lost Filling

If you lose a filling, you should get in touch with your dentist right away. A missing filling can expose the tooth’s nerve and/or allow your tooth to break more easily, both which lead to additional, more serious dental issues.

  1. Broken Crown

If your crown breaks off, your tooth is left vulnerable to damage and infection.

Quickly replacing that crown with an emergency dentist visit can help you to avoid dental procedures like root canals and extractions. 

  1. Food/Objects Lodged Between Teeth

If you are in a situation where brushing and flossing can’t remove food or something else from your teeth, call your emergency dentist.

When left untreated, that object can lead to tooth decay, teeth shifting, gum disease, and infection. 

  1. Abscessed Tooth

Another emergency dental situation is an abscess. This is a collection of pus caused by a bacterial infection that can form inside teeth, in gums, or in the bones that hold your teeth in place. 

This tooth abscess can cause: 

  • Hot and cold sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Toothache
  • Swelling
  • A bump on the gums near the infected tooth

Because this is an infection that could spread, it should be treated as an emergency.

  1. Knocked-Out Tooth

If you’ve just had a tooth knocked out of your mouth, don’t wait to see your dentist.

To give your dentist the best chance at reinserting it, you can help by taking the following steps:

  • Pick up the tooth by the top (and be careful to not touch the root)
  • Rinse the tooth off with water without scrubbing
  • Try to reinsert the tooth in the socket
  • If that’s not possible, place it in a container of milk or water
  • Get to the dentist quickly

Emergency Dentist Near Columbia, MD

Dental emergencies can happen to even the most diligent patients. If you believe you have one of the conditions on this list – or you are dealing with other symptoms that can’t wait – time is of the essence. 

Shore Family Dentistry is here to help you if you are experiencing a dental emergency or other oral health issues. We can be reached on our office line at (443) 385-0285.

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