What is a Dental Emergency?

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Dental Emergencies Should Be Treated Immediately

Dentists and other dental care experts have dedicated their lives to keeping your teeth and mouth healthy and clean. Like other healthcare experts, dentists have spent years learning as much about teeth and oral hygiene to prepare them for treating patients. These highly educated and well-versed individuals offer dental care services, such as dental exams, dental cleanings, extractions, dental x-rays, braces, and more. However, several instances do not count as traditional routine appointments. Many patients suffer from a dental emergency that requires immediate treatment.

These dental emergencies often cause a great deal of pain and discomfort and must be treated immediately. If not, greater issues may occur, like infections and other harmful conditions. Unlike routine dental appointments, dental emergencies should not be ignored. You can suffer a dental emergency at any time due to several reasons.

During the current global pandemic, many businesses and industries have been affected. While dental clinics are considered essential businesses, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas’ services have been altered to better protect our staff, patients, and community. Currently, we are following the advice of trusted healthcare organizations around the world, which advise our clinic to prioritize dental emergencies above other services. If you are suffering from a dental emergency, contact us today to learn how we can help.

Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies continue to rise within the United States. In 2016, there were 2.2 million hospital emergency department visits for dental conditions, up from 1.1 million in 2001. Nearly every 14 seconds, someone visits an emergency room for a dental emergency. With such a frequency in emergency visits, we should take the time to explain what is considered a dental emergency and what you should do in case you suffer one.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a dental emergency is potentially life-threatening, and those suffering from one should seek treatment immediately. Examples of such emergencies include:

  • Nonstop bleeding
  • Painful swelling in or around the tooth
  • Cellulitis or “a diffuse soft-tissue bacterial infection with intra-oral or extra-oral swelling that potentially compromises the patient’s airway.”
  • Pain felt in teeth or jawbone
  • Painful and swollen gum infections
  • Post-surgery treatment
  • Broken or knocked-out teeth

If you suffer from any of these dental emergencies or injuries, you should seek dental treatment right away. If you do not, your chances of falling seriously ill or developing life-threatening diseases increases.

Following is what the American Dental Association (ADA) does not consider to be a dental emergency:

  • Routine dental exams
  • Dental cleanings
  • Dental x-rays
  • Extractions for non-painful teeth
  • Teeth whitening
  • Treatments for non-painful cavities
  • Restorative dentistry
  • All aesthetic dental procedures

Not all dental procedures require immediate care, especially those that are not painful or involve excessive bleeding. If you are unsure if your case is a dental emergency, contact your dentist right away.

What to Do Following a Dental Emergency

If you are someone that has ever suffered a dental emergency, then you understand that these situations can be stressful, scary, and painful. Often, you are left unsure about the correct course of action to take. After all, dental emergencies are not nearly as talked about as traditional medical emergencies. However, they are just as important.

People often suffer a dental emergency, yet do not know that it is one. Even if they do know, many people are unsure of what they should do to keep their mouth safe until they receive the appropriate emergency care.

If you suffer a dental emergency, here are some useful tips that can help ease your pain and protect your mouth until you seek treatment:

  • Mix salt in warm water to use as a mouthwash to clean the wound, relieve irritation, and reduce swelling.
  • If you knock out a tooth, keep it moist. You can place the tooth in a glass of milk, in between your cheek and gums, or back in the socket without touching the root.
  • For cracked teeth, immediately rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the damaged area then place a cold compress on the injured area to keep swelling down.
  • Swish around your mouth with hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and ease any irritation.
  • Take the prescribed dose of over the counter pain medication to relieve pain.
  • Floss your teeth. Occasionally, extreme pain surrounding one specific tooth may be the result of something lodged in your gums.

Regardless of the cause of your dental emergency, you should always contact your dentist to ensure that your case requires emergency care.


The best way to deal with dental emergencies is to make sure that they never happen. While it’s not always possible to prevent all emergencies, there are steps you can take to better protect yourself from these incidents and to save you from pain and discomfort. The most obvious way to protect your teeth is by regularly seeing your dentist twice a year for a comprehensive dental exam. This is when your dentist can recognize any issues your teeth and mouth may have before they become a problem. However, you can do more to prevent dental emergencies, including:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily
  • Do not eat foods that are tough and chewy too frequently
  • Avoid foods and beverages that contain high amounts of sugar
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing sports
  • Ask your doctor if you are showing signs of gum disease. If so, follow their instructions to improve and maintain your oral hygiene
  • Never use your teeth to cut or open packages

Unfortunately, dental emergencies can and do happen often. They can be extremely painful and lead to life-threatening diseases if they are not properly cared for. If you are uncertain if you have suffered a dental emergency, contact Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas to explain your symptoms and situation to learn if your case is an emergency and what your next steps should be.