What is Considered to be a Dental Emergency?

young man with tooth pain

Dental problems and injuries can happen at any time, day or night. Sometimes they are fairly minor and can wait for you to book a regular appointment with your dentist. However, sometimes the situation is more serious, and you need to be seen right away. But, how do you know if you need immediate help?


Deciding whether or not to contact your dentist as a matter of urgency isn’t always easy. On one hand, you don’t want to suffer unnecessarily or run the risk of more serious or permanent damage to your teeth. But on the other hand, you may incur additional expenses for visiting an out-of-hours dentist or be taking an appointment away for someone who really needs it.

So, what is considered to be a dental emergency and means that you need to be seen by your dentist straight away? Read on to find out some of the most common types of dental emergencies.

You’ve knocked a tooth out

Without a doubt, most patient’s worst nightmare is having a tooth knocked out. Unfortunately, they are surprisingly common and normally happen after a trauma to the mouth. Depending on the force of the blow, the tooth may have come out intact or it may be broken into pieces. Fortunately, knocked-out teeth can sometimes be replaced if you get help immediately and you handle the tooth correctly. Don’t touch the root if you can avoid it, rinse it with clean water if it is visibly dirty, and either pop it back in its socket (if you can and if you are an adult) or place it in a container of milk. Then get to see your emergency dentist as soon as you can. If the original tooth can’t be reinserted successfully, your dentist will be able to talk about what tooth replacement options are available.

Dislocated or broken jaw

Again, usually the result of a trauma, a dislocated jaw occurs when the mandible is moved out of alignment at one or both of the temporomandibular joints (located on each side of the face where the jaw and skull connect). A dislocated jaw can be just as serious as a fractured jaw, and both should be assessed by a professional as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to diagnose which condition you have, but you may need to be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to carry out the necessary treatment to repair your jaw.

Broken teeth or restorations

Teeth may be one of the strongest substances in our bodies, but they can still become damaged and broken. Equally, over time any restorations that we have such as fillings, crowns, and dentures, can also be lost or become broken. In most instances, you will need to see your dentist right away. This is because broken teeth or those with lost restorations can become very painful and put you at greater risk of developing decay or infections.


Severe dental pain

Toothaches can be extremely painful, causing anything from chronic throbbing to acute sharpness. If you are unable to cope with your pain at home and if over-the-counter medications are not providing enough relief from your discomfort, you should see your emergency dentist. At the very least they will be able to prescribe medication to get your discomfort under control immediately and may even be able to deal with the underlying cause of your pain.



If you are suffering from a dental problem and aren’t sure whether or not it is an emergency, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist immediately. When you call, they should be able to evaluate your dental problem over the phone and advise you if you need to be seen straight away, or if you can wait for a regular appointment.