Types of Dental Emergencies


Health emergencies should never go untreated, especially when it comes to your teeth. But sometimes, it can be hard to tell when you’re experiencing some dental discomfort or an issue where you can make an appointment for later in the week versus a dental emergency that requires immediate care. Therefore, it’s important to know which dental scenarios are considered emergencies for the sake of your overall dental health.

The most common types of dental emergencies you should never ignore include:

  • A cracked or broken tooth
  • A knocked-out tooth
  • Persistent tooth pain
  • Misplaced tooth restorations
  • Presence of abscesses

This article will discuss the various types of dental scenarios that are considered emergencies and require quick action from the patient and dental experts. It will describe how these emergencies occur, their side effects, and the potential consequences if left without treatment.

The Top 5 Dental Emergencies You Should Never Ignore

It’s no secret that a person’s teeth work hard every day of their life grinding down food and supporting communication, and therefore, they can experience significant wear and tear, especially if they aren’t well-maintained. 

Of course, even someone who brushes, flosses, and swishes mouthwash on their teeth multiple times a day can experience a dental emergency, and it’s important to be able to recognize these situations when they arise so you can immediately reach out for help. 

Amidst the countless dental issues a person can have, there are five types that are widely agreed upon to be undeniable emergencies you should never ignore. They include:

  • A cracked or broken teeth
  • A knocked-out tooth
  • Persistent tooth pain
  • Misplaced tooth restorations
  • Presence of abscesses

If you are currently experiencing any of these issues, you’re in the midst of a dental emergency and need medical assistance right away, and here’s why. 

A Cracked or Broken Tooth

You might be surprised to learn that a person’s tooth, most notably their tooth enamel, is the strongest substance in the human body. That being said, this substance is not invincible and can potentially chip, split, or break off completely. 

Cracked or broken teeth might upset someone for their visual impact, but what you should really be worried about is the nerve exposure they likely cause. 

Beneath layers of enamel and dentin lies the tooth’s pulp where its nerves lie, and if you crack or break your tooth, you’re likely leaving those nerves exposed, which can cause excruciating pain and leave these sensitive nerves susceptible to infection. If left untreated, these types of infections can lead to the formation of an abscess and/or pulp necrosis and will likely result in the complete removal of the infected tooth.

A Knocked-Out Tooth

There is a common misconception that once a tooth has been knocked out of a person’s mouth, you might as well put it under your pillow for the tooth fairy because there’s nothing you can do. On the contrary, this situation has been deemed an emergency because the tooth can, in fact, be saved and placed back in a person’s mouth, but time is of the essence. 

If you can receive dental assistance within the hour of the tooth being knocked out or even partially dislodged, there’s a good chance it can be saved and make a full recovery through oral surgery. 

To do this, you’ll want to hold the tooth by its crown, rinse it in cold water if it’s dirty, and then gently place it back in its socket, if possible. If not, place it in a cup of milk or the person’s saliva to keep it alive in the meantime. 

Persistent Tooth Pain

Tooth pain likely occurs to everyone at some point, whether it’s from sensitivity to hot and cold foods or beverages, something being stuck in your gums, or other easily solved and less concerning causes. However, there are instances when tooth pain is considered an emergency, and the first sign of this is if the pain is persistent. 

Typically, if you’re experiencing some degree of tooth pain that lasts 24-48 hours, it should be deemed an emergency and receive medical attention. Alternatively, if the tooth pain is severe, lasting several hours, you’re better off seeing a professional sooner.

Intense, constant tooth pain is usually an indicator of a tooth infection, which should not be ignored for reasons we discussed in the cracked or broken tooth scenario. Another risk of leaving this potential infection alone is that it spreads to other parts of your body, so it is imperative you seek a Markham dentist to prevent this. 

Misplaced Tooth Restorations

Tooth restorations refer to crowns and fillings a person received from oral surgery, the most common being a cavity filling. While these restorations are meant to be just as strong, if not stronger, than the surrounding enamel, they can wear down over time or become dislodged. If this occurs, it should not be ignored. 

Fillings and crowns typically protect your tooth’s nerves that were exposed prior to their placement. Without their protection, you risk exposing the nerves to bacteria that could cause infection. It can also be quite painful, so it’s within your best interests to treat this as an emergency and have the restorations replaced right away. 

Presence of Abscesses

An abscess is usually caused when a tooth’s infection has been left untreated and creates a pocket of pus below the tooth’s roots. This is one of the most serious emergencies on the list considering, if this abscess continues to go untreated, the infection will likely spread to the person’s jaw and to other areas of the head and neck. This could result in life-threatening effects that only become harder to treat the longer they linger in your system. Therefore, you’ll want to see a specialist quickly for treatment, most likely a root canal surgery

Final Thoughts

If you’re experiencing any of these dental emergencies we’ve listed in this article, don’t wait to see a dental professional. These experts are specially trained to help you remedy any of these issues quickly and to the best of their abilities, but the sooner you bring it to their attention, the better the outcome will likely be.


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