Ouch! Don’t Wait: Top 4 Dental Emergencies You Shouldn’t Ignore


Dental emergencies can strike when you least expect them, leaving you in pain and unsure of what to do next.  But the good news is you’re not alone! Many people experience these situations, and the key is knowing how to react quickly and effectively. 

This blog post is your one-stop guide to the top 4 dental emergencies you should never ignore. We’ll delve into the symptoms, potential complications, and most importantly, why a trip to the dentist shouldn’t be delayed.

1.  Severe Toothache

A dull ache might be easy to ignore, but a persistent, severe toothache is a red flag that shouldn’t be dismissed. This intense pain can be caused by a variety of issues, including:

  • Tooth decay: A cavity that’s reached the deeper layers of your tooth can cause significant pain and inflammation.
  • Abscess: A pocket of pus that forms around an infected tooth root. This can be extremely painful and lead to swelling in the face and jaw.
  • Cracked tooth: A deep crack in the tooth can irritate the pulp (the inner layer containing nerves and blood vessels).
  • Gum disease: Advanced gum disease can loosen teeth and cause significant pain

Why you shouldn’t wait: Ignoring a severe toothache can lead to serious complications like tooth loss, jawbone infection, and even facial swelling. Early intervention is crucial to prevent these problems and save your tooth.  Let your dentist know the intensity and location of the pain. They’ll diagnose the cause and recommend the best course of treatment, which could involve antibiotics, root canal therapy, or even tooth extraction.

2.  Knocked-Out Tooth

Losing a tooth due to an accident can be a scary experience. However, there’s a chance to save the tooth if you act quickly! Here’s what to do:

  • Locate the tooth: Find the tooth carefully and avoid touching the root.
  • Rinse gently: Briefly rinse the tooth with clean milk or water (not tap water with chlorine).
  • Reposition (if possible): If you can safely do so, try to gently reinsert the tooth back into its socket.
  • Hold in place: If repositioning isn’t possible, hold the tooth in your mouth next to your cheek or store it in a container of milk.

Why you shouldn’t wait: The longer a tooth is out of its socket, the lower the chances of successful reimplantation. Aim to see your dentist within 30 minutes of losing the tooth. The dentist will attempt to reimplant the tooth and stabilise it with a splint.

3.  Lost Filling or Crown

Fillings and crowns are protective barriers that safeguard your teeth from further decay. However, they can sometimes become loose or fall out entirely. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Sensitivity: You might experience increased tooth sensitivity to hot or cold drinks after losing a filling.
  • Pain: In some cases, a lost filling can expose the inner tooth, leading to pain when chewing.
  • Sharp edges: A broken or missing crown can leave sharp edges that irritate your gums or tongue.

Why you shouldn’t wait: Leaving a lost filling or crown unaddressed can expose your tooth to bacteria and increase the risk of further decay or infection. Additionally, sharp edges can irritate your gums and make eating uncomfortable. Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. They’ll assess the situation and determine the best course of action, which could involve replacing the filling or recementing the crown.

4.  Swollen Face or Gums

Facial swelling or swollen gums can be caused by various dental issues, including:

  • Abscess: As mentioned earlier, an abscessed tooth can cause significant swelling in the face and jaw.
  • Gum disease: Advanced gum disease can lead to swollen, red, and tender gums.
  • Impacted wisdom tooth: A wisdom tooth that doesn’t have enough room to erupt properly can become impacted and cause swelling and pain.

Why you shouldn’t wait: Facial swelling can be a sign of a serious infection that requires prompt treatment. 

5.  Broken or Cracked Tooth

A chipped or cracked tooth might not cause immediate pain, but it shouldn’t be ignored. Here’s why:

  • Sharp edges: A chipped tooth can have sharp edges that can cut your tongue or cheek.
  • Increased risk of infection: A crack can create an opening for bacteria to enter the tooth, potentially leading to infection and pain.
  • Painful future: A small crack can worsen over time, causing significant pain and requiring more extensive dental work later.

Why you shouldn’t wait: While a minor chip might not be a dental emergency, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to assess the damage and determine the best course of action. This could involve smoothing the chipped area, bonding the tooth back together, or placing a crown to protect the tooth from further damage.