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dental emergency

Dental emergency – what it is and what it is not

dental emergency

A dental emergency is a situation that requires immediate attention and care to support injuries or damage to teeth or oral tissues. This emergency can be accompanied by pain though not always, but the presence of pain can help the dental specialist to narrow down to the area that requires urgent dental attention. This immediate care will help to preserve dental and oral health for a longer time.

Dental emergencies are common, but some of it also due to dental issues such as pain or inflammation being left unchecked and developing into a concern that requires immediate dental procedure or care.

Dental emergencies result due to accidents, trauma or force to the mouth, falls or accidents during contact sports, slipping and falling. These common incidents can create dental emergencies if they bring immense force to the oral region and impact the mouth and neighbouring areas and damage them.

How to identify a dental emergency and what to do in an emergency

Dental emergencies can bring pain and discomfort in the mouth or areas such as the neck and jaw. Some of the signs that are seen in dental emergencies are pain, bleeding from gums/tooth, inflammation, teeth that are numb, swollen and painful jaw etc. Some other symptoms that are seen accompanying these signs are fever, and having trouble breathing or swallowing. When certain symptoms are shown, the usual method is to try home remedies or seek help with over-the-counter medicine. But it is best to seek help from a dentist if unsure. The reason is dental injuries can lead to more severe dental and related health problems if medical attention is not sought.

In situations where it is a dental emergency, the first step would be to take precautionary and preventive procedures that will help the situation from escalating. This should be followed by securing an appointment with the dentist and following any guidance that is mentioned by the dentist till the appointment time. The steps that are taken following an emergency depend on the situation – in the case of a knocked-out tooth, care should be taken to save the tooth and keep it safe. Whereas, if it’s the case of a tooth abscess then swelling will be seen in the jaws, neck and face and accompanied by a foul smell from the mouth. Ideally, it will help to seek immediate dental care in situations where the dental issue is escalating.

Dental emergencies

When there is severe pain, injuries and bleeding from gums, teeth, cheeks or tongue – it is considered as a dental emergency and immediate care needs to be taken. Certain examples of dental emergencies are:


Severe toothache is often a sign that needs dental care. Pain can result from food being caught between teeth, tooth cracked/chipped due to biting into something hard, or from tooth knocked out due to trauma to the mouth. If there is swelling in the cheeks and neck region, it can be an underlying dental problem and it is important to check with the dentist to avoid it progressing into other serious dental and other health problems.

Cracked/chipped tooth

There can be situations of tooth chipping off while biting into any hard food. Along with the tooth chipping off, it also comes with severe pain. This is considered a dental emergency as the issue can there is pain, along with it becoming difficult to chew food. The chipped tooth can also affect the dental health of the person.

Tooth abscess

Infections in the mouth are common, due to bacterial action in the mouth. Infections that should be attended to immediately are those at the base of the tooth or in the space between the tooth and the gums. These infections can spread easily to other gum tissue and affect the teeth and loosen them. These are usually seen as pimples at the base of the tooth and can be painful while brushing. This is a sure sign that infection has spread extensively and needs immediate dental care.

Non-urgent dental problems

Here are some examples of non-urgent dental issues, which may sometimes progress into emergencies.

Lost filling/crown

Losing filling/crown might cause discomfort, but it is not considered an urgent dental emergency as it does not cause severe problems and does not affect the dental health adversely. The lost filling or crown can be replaced after receiving a dental appointment at the clinic. But it is also important to check if the crown/filling is lost due to infection. This situation signals a severe dental issue and needs to be checked immediately.

Food lodged between teeth

Food getting stuck between teeth is something most have experienced. This can be removed by using dental floss, or carefully using a tooth pick, and sometimes can be pulled out using fingers if they stick out from between the teeth. As dental health is not adversely affected and the situation can be remedied easily, it is not considered a dental emergency.

Dull toothache

A dull toothache can be generally taken care of with over-the-counter medicine and does not usually require immediate dental care. But it is important to also keep a watch out if the pain does not subside in the next few days and if there are any accompanying symptoms. If that is the case, then dental care is required.

Above given are some of the dental conditions, when situations arise it is important to check if they progress in severity. It is also important to check if they are accompanying symptoms that accompany the pain or symptom. Dental consultations should be done regularly twice a year, these check-ups will help in finding out what are the underlying dental situations and the dentist can suggest proactive dental care to prevent the issue from developing.


  • Dr Peter El Shoura

    Meet Dr Peter El Shoura, your local dentist and Owner of Kellyville Smiles. Known for his gentle approach, Dr Peter excels in easing patient anxieties, offering customised treatments that respect each individual's pace and preferences. Dr. Peter holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery from The University of Melbourne, a Diploma in Clinical Orthodontics, a Fellowship in Implant Dentistry, as well as Mpharm(USyd) and Bmedsci(Usyd), highlighting his extensive expertise in dental health and advanced treatments.

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