While it is always important to visit your dentist for regular checkups, there are instances where you may need to have dental issues addressed right away.

But how do you know if it’s an emergency? How long should you wait before you see your dentist?

There are times when minor dental problems do not warrant an emergency trip to your dentist or hospital but serious dental emergencies need to be dealt with immediately.

To get a better understanding of when you need to make that emergency call, here are the ways you can tell you are having a dental emergency as well as some common dental emergencies that cannot be ignored:

How to Know If You’re Having a Dental Emergency

While not every dental issue is considered an emergency, it’s important to know when you should see your dentist right away to avoid further problems.

One of the biggest signs that you are experiencing a dental emergency is if you are bleeding and in severe pain. These are issues that cannot wait a day or two for a regular appointment.

Losing a tooth or having a loose tooth are serious problems as well. A lost tooth can be potentially saved with fast treatment.

An abscess or serious infection in your mouth also needs to be addressed right away. This situation can be life-threatening so if you notice swelling around your gums or your face, see a dentist right away.

Overall, dental emergencies are issues that need immediate treatment. If you cannot see your dentist immediately, you may have to visit the emergency room.

However, if the problem is not severe and you can wait until your dentist is available, this is not a dental emergency. For example, a mild toothache or chipped tooth without severe pain and swelling can wait.

Common Dental Emergencies You Should Have Looked At Immediately

Young woman having toothache, sitting in a dental chair at the clinic.

To give you a better idea of what is considered a dental emergency, here are some common issues you should have looked at immediately:

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth occurs when pus around the tooth has led to an infection. This can cause tooth sensitivity, a persistent toothache, swelling in the face, and fever.

If left untreated, this type of infection can be life-threatening. The infection can spread through your jaw and around your body.

You can immediately treat an abscessed tooth by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to reduce the pain and draw out the pus – but this is only a temporary solution until you can see your dentist, which you should do immediately.

Bleeding or Swollen Gums

Irritated gums are not necessarily a dental emergency but painful gums that won’t stop bleeding can be a sign of a serious underlying health issue. 

Having your gums bleed is not normal, so it’s important to see your dentist right away if they are bleeding, swollen, and painful.

Swollen Mouth or Jaw

If your mouth or jaw suddenly swell up for no obvious reason, it’s time for an emergency visit to your dentist. 

This can be a sign of infection, irritated lymph nodes, or some other health issue that needs to be treated immediately.

Unexplainable Toothache

Although toothaches can be a painful nuisance, this is an issue you shouldn’t ignore. It could be an indication that something is wrong with your mouth.

If there’s no reason for the toothache, contact your dentist right away so they can diagnose and treat the underlying issue.

Before you get to the dentist, apply a cold compress, rinse with salt water, and take pain medication to alleviate the discomfort.

Exposed Nerves

An exposed nerve is not only excruciatingly painful but, if left untreated, can lead to infection, nerve damage, or more invasive dental treatments in the future.

To prevent these issues and address the pain, see your dentist as soon as possible

Missing Tooth

The more quickly you act after having a tooth knocked out, the better chance your dentist will have to reinsert and preserve the tooth.

Immediately after losing a tooth, be careful not to touch the root and carefully rinse it (no scrubbing). If you can, replace the tooth in the socket but, if you can’t, place it in a small container of milk.

Missing Filling

If you have a filling fall out of your tooth, your tooth can end up breaking or chipping. It can even expose the tooth’s nerve which, as you can see above, can lead to a variety of problems.

Seek immediate treatment if you lose a filling so that your dentist can fix the issue right away.

Broken Crown

A broken or missing crown can expose your tooth to infection and damage. Schedule an emergency dental appointment to have your crown replaced in order to avoid an extraction or root canal.

Lodged Food or Objects

Leaving a piece of food or object lodged between your teeth can lead to shifting teeth, gum irritation, infection, and tooth decay.

When you can’t remove the object or piece of food with brushing and flossing, see your dentist immediately.

How to Avoid Dental Emergencies

Of course, there are ways you can avoid dental emergencies by being proactive with your dental health and maintaining routine check-ups with your dentist.

During these appointments, your dentist will examine your mouth for signs of infection, decay, and gum disease. They will also check to make sure your fillings or crowns are not loose.

You can also do your part by paying attention to your teeth and watching for signs of problems. Be sure to also maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly.

Time is of the Essence!

If you are dealing with a dental emergency, don’t wait to give us a call!

Our experienced team of dentists in North Edmonton are available to help you address serious dental issues before they become severe problems.

Click here to contact our Oxford office.

Click here to contact our Abbotsfield office.