What is a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency is anything that creates enough physical pain to seriously interfere with your ability to function, or one that is causing serious, possibly life-threatening illness. This typically precludes things like a chipped tooth or low-moderate dental pain—these are situations that require emergency dental services.

The following are common dental emergencies for which you should seek medical attention.

Blunt Force Trauma

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If you have been hit in the mouth and are experiencing pain and swelling, you may have a dental emergency on your hands.

A tooth doesn’t need to be fully knocked out in this case—there could be damage to the jaw bone or skull, a major tooth fracture, and similar damage that can not only lead to the obvious debilitating physical pain, but can also lead to infections.

In these cases, it’s important to see an emergency dentist for diagnosis, treatment, and to rule out any serious medical complications that could arise from the incident.

Having a Tooth Knocked Out

dental problems require emergency dental care

If you have a tooth knocked out, the first thing to do is to find the tooth. Once you find it, put the tooth in a glass of milk and get to the dentist as soon as possible. Be sure to pick it up by the crown—not the root!—and rinse it off lightly before taking it to your dentist.

If you are unable to find the knocked out tooth, go to the dentist and explain what happened. They will be able to treat the damaged area and offer options for repairs (such as a dental implant), as well as suggest over the counter pain medication or provide a temporary prescription for stronger painkillers.

Time is critical when it comes to teeth—the longer you wait, the less likely it is that the tooth can be saved.

An emergency dentist can often put the tooth back into place, but if that’s not possible, they may still be able to save it with other treatments.

Dental Abscess

immediate dental treatment - immediate dental care

A dental abscess is a pocket of puss that forms around the tooth which causes severe pain and swelling. These typically occur as a result of advanced tooth decay, where plaque and bacteria eat through the various layers of the tooth (enamel and dentin) and then infect the tooth pulp—the soft, fleshy center of the tooth that contains blood vessels and the tooth nerve. It’s usually cases like these where people require root canal therapy.

Infections like these are not only painful but can quickly lead to problems with your sinuses or lungs if they spread. The bacteria can also easily make its way into the bloodstream, causing sepsis.

Again, the sooner you get emergency dental treatment, the better chance you have at saving your tooth, but time is also of the essence when it comes to staving off advanced infection and disease.

Severe Pain

When it comes right down to it, pain that is severe enough is itself an emergency situation. There are many treatments and medications that can ease your pain and discomfort in the short term until you can get a long-term solution.

Advanced dental decay, gum disease, and other advanced dental and periodontal problems can qualify as dental emergencies and should be treated as such if the pain is severe enough.

What If I Can’t Afford Dental Treatment?

There are many options available for people who cannot afford dental treatment.

Many companies offer affordable dental plans that can be used in conjunction with low-cost clinics or even your local dentist’s office to get the care that you need. Don’t let money stand between you and dental health.

It’s also possible to find an affordable dentist in Mesa AZ and surrounding areas who provide emergency dental care and increase their hours for these types of situations.

One of the best ways to deal with a dental emergency is to know what to do before it happens. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place for what to do if you experience a dental emergency.


So what should you do if you experience a dental emergency? The best thing to do is call your dentist’s office and explain what’s going on. Many dentists offer after-hours services for just this type of situation. If you can’t reach your dentist or if you’re experiencing a true emergency (such as a tooth being knocked out), then go to the nearest local emergency room. And remember, don’t try to treat a dental emergency yourself—always seek professional help!

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