What is a dental emergency?

Ever had a tooth-related problem and wondered how to deal with it? Well, the first step towards identifying a dental emergency is to know exactly what qualifies as one. Any sort of injury sustained to the mouth or teeth, resulting in toothaches, swelling or infections can be deemed a dental emergency.

Types of Emergencies & How To Deal With Them

Now most dental emergencies will require professional care and attention from either your dentist or a doctor. However, knowing how to identify your emergency can help you make the right decision when it comes to medical attention. Knowing what you are dealing with can also help you alleviate some of the pain before you are able to receive professional help. Some of the main dental emergencies include:


A toothache is the most common type of dental emergency there is. There could be a number of reasons why you may be experiencing toothaches, most often being a bacterial infection or some form of gum disease.

What you can do to relieve some of the pain is to rinse out your mouth with some warm water. If you are experiencing swelling, a cold compress placed on the outside of your cheek can offer some temporary relief. Over-the-counter pain medication can help, but never apply aspirin directly to your gums as it can cause burning. If the pain is being caused by food stuck in between your teeth, dental floss is the way to go. To avoid the risk of any serious infection, it is strongly advised to pay your dentist or doctor a visit.

Knocked-Out Teeth

Accidents happen and sometimes a tooth could be knocked out. In this case, do not panic. Remember, it can still be fixed. The first step is to remain calm and focus on finding the missing tooth. Do not touch the root and always handle the tooth by the crown. This will ensure that no tissue is rubbed or scraped off in the process.

Once you have the tooth, clean it to remove any dirt. A quick rinse with water or milk works wonders. Next, gently place the tooth in the socket and try to hold it there. Now sometimes, it may not be possible to put the tooth back in the socket. In this case, keep the tooth moist by dunking it in some milk or keeping it tightly sealed in plastic wrap. Ensure that the tooth does not dry out. Time is of the essence here, so make sure to seek immediate emergency dental care to help replant your tooth.

Chips, Fractures & Cracks

If your tooth sustains any chips, cracks or fractures, there are things you can do to alleviate pain. Rinse out your mouth with warm water and use a cold compress if there is any swelling.

The severity of your injury determines how urgently you will need care. If you see any signs pink, this indicates that a nerve is exposed, meaning your tooth has suffered extensive damage. However, a dentist is the only one who can accurately assess your condition, so make sure to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Abscesses or Swelling

Tooth abscesses are often pus-filled, swollen localised infections that occur at the root of the tooth or in spaces between the teeth and gums. If untreated, these painful abscesses can lead to tissue damage and affect surrounding teeth as well. In extreme cases, the infection can spread all over the mouth and even prove to be life-threatening. A regular warm saltwater rinse can help with the discomfort, and a cold compress can ease the swelling. Pain medication can help to an extent, but there might be a chance you will require a prescription for antibiotics. This is why it is important to seek urgent dental care at the earliest possible time.

Jaw Pain

Having trouble chewing food or opening your mouth? Pain in the jaw can arise due to gum infections or wisdom tooth issues. However, make sure to consult with a dentist to properly diagnose the source of pain. This can help avoid the risk of more serious health issues from developing. For quick relief, apply a cold compress to the side of your cheek or take some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to help with swelling.

Where to Go for Dental Emergencies

If you or someone you know requires urgent dental care, make sure to locate your nearest dentist or pay a visit to a community dental clinic nearby. For treatment-specific issues, check out dental hospitals who have specialised professionals on hand to tend to your every need.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Let’s face it, dental issues are not pleasant in the slightest. It’s always better to prevent dental emergencies so that you can save yourself from pain and inconvenience. The best thing to do is to maintain oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing. Plus, if you’re taking part in sporting activities, make sure to wear protective gear, such as a mouthguard, to avoid cracking or knocking out teeth. Additionally, avoid using your mouth to open bottles or tear open packets, and wherever possible, try not to chew on hard food or objects like pen caps and ice.

Take good care of your teeth and remember, if you have any tooth or mouth-related injuries or concerns, don’t hesitate to seek emergency dental care!

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