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8 Common Dental Emergencies and When You Should See A Dentist

December 26, 2023

A dental emergency can happen at any time of the day or night, causing discomfort and anxiety. Whether it’s a sudden toothache, a broken crown, or a knocked-out tooth, understanding how to handle these situations and seeking prompt professional care can make a significant difference in avoiding future complications.

The team at Arlington Dental Excellence is equipped to handle a variety of dental issues, including emergencies. In this article, we’ll explain how to recognize the signs of a dental emergency and what to do in case of an emergency to prevent issues from escalating.

Understanding Common Dental Emergencies

The first step in managing urgent oral health issues is to understand them. Dental emergencies encompass a wide range of situations, each one requiring specific attention.

Below are 8 common dental emergencies and how to recognize and address them:


A toothache is characterized by persistent or severe pain in the tooth or gums. The most common causes include cavities, infection, trauma, or gum disease. The immediate steps to deal with a toothache include rinsing the mouth, flossing gently to remove debris, and taking OTC pain relievers. While urgent, a toothache may not be an emergency. Seek professional care as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis.

Knocked-Out Tooth   

A knocked-out tooth is completely dislodged from the socket. The most common causes include trauma or accidents. When a tooth is knocked out, the first step is to recover the tooth. Pick it up by the crown, avoiding contact with the roots. Rinse it gently and attempt to reposition it in the socket. If unable to do so, store in milk and seek professional treatment within 30 minutes for the best chances of reimplantation.

Broken/Fractured Tooth

A broken/fractured tooth is characterized by visible cracks, chips, or fractures in the tooth. The most common causes include tooth decay, biting on hard objects, or trauma. If you have a broken/fractured tooth, save any broken pieces, rinse your mouth and the fragments, and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. While not a critical emergency, it is important to seek emergency care for assessment and restoration options.

Lost Dental Crown/Filling

A lost dental crown/filling is characterized by a missing crown or filling. It is most commonly caused by wear and tear, tooth decay, or trauma. The first step is to retrieve the crown or filing, if possible. Then, use dental cement to temporarily secure it in place. Schedule an appointment with your dentist for a replacement.

Abscess/Dental Infection

An abscess or dental infection is characterized by a severe toothache, swelling, pus/discharge, and fever. The most common causes include complications from previous dental work, untreated tooth decay, and gum disease. When you have an abscess, start by rinsing with warm saltwater and taking OTC pain relievers. See the dentist as soon as possible. If left untreated, an abscess can have severe complications.

Orthodontic Emergencies

An orthodontic emergency includes broken brackets or protruding wires, causing discomfort. These emergencies are most commonly caused by biting on hard foods, normal wear and tear, or trauma. If you have an orthodontic emergency, use orthodontic wax to prevent irritation, clip protruding wires with sterilized nail clippers, and seek immediate treatment.

Soft Tissue Injuries

A soft tissue injury is a cut, tear, or injury to the gums, lips, or tongue. These injuries are most commonly caused by trauma, accidents, or falls. The first step is to gently clean the area and apply pressure with gauze or a clean cloth to control bleeding. Seek immediate professional care.

Jaw/Mouth Trauma

Jaw/mouth trauma includes injuries to the jaw, teeth, or surrounding structures. These injuries are most commonly caused by falls, accidents, or sports injuries. The first step is to stabilize the area, apply a cold compress to reduce swelling, and seek emergency dental care. If necessary, visit the emergency room.

How Does Arlington Dental Excellence Handle Dental Emergencies?

The team at Arlington Dental Excellence is equipped to handle a variety of dental issues, including dental emergencies. We offer the following emergency dental procedures:

Immediate Assessment

We will start by assessing your condition by gathering information about the nature and severity of your emergency. We will also use diagnostic tools to get a comprehensive view of the issue. This will help us to identify any underlying issues that are not immediately visible.

Pain Management

If you are experiencing significant pain, local anesthesia will be administered to numb the area. If necessary, prescription pain medications may be offered.

Immediate Treatment

Depending on the nature of your emergency, immediate treatment may be provided to address the issue. This may include draining an abscess, repositioning a displaced tooth, or a temporary filling.

Restorative Procedures

If your emergency involves a damaged/broken tooth, restorative procedures may be provided. This may include placing a crown, dental bonding, root canal treatment, or extraction.

Orthodontic Emergencies

If your emergency involves a broken orthodontic appliance, adjustments/repairs may be made. In some cases, you may be provided with guidance on how to manage the issue until a more detailed solution can be implemented.

Follow-Up Care

After initial treatment, you will be provided with clear instructions for follow-up treatment at home. This will include information on pain management, proper oral hygiene, and a schedule for necessary follow-up appointments.

Arlington Dental Excellence Can Manage Your Dental Emergencies

Navigating 8 common dental emergencies requires a combination of prompt action and professional care. While initial steps can be taken at home to manage pain and minimize damage, seeking immediate attention from the dental professionals at Arlington Dental Excellence is crucial for proper diagnosis and long-term resolution. Remember that early intervention not only alleviates immediate discomfort but also prevents potential complications that may arise from untreated dental emergencies. Stay informed, be prepared, and prioritize your oral health to ensure a confident smile for years to come.

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