May 1, 2013

What To Do In A Dental Emergency

What would you consider a dental emergency?  If you have pain that interferes with your ability to function, that certainly is a dental emergency and if you’ve sustained trauma to your teeth or mouth, that is a dental emergency.  There also are “cosmetic” emergencies, and those can be just as immediate as pain or injury.  What are common dental emergencies and how can you handle them?

Of course, there’s the infamous toothache.  Sometimes a toothache could happen because food is wedged between the teeth.  So use some floss and make sure there’s nothing lodged there.  If the nerve of the tooth is infected and dying, you most likely will experience spontaneous throbbing.  Your bite could feel different and you may have pain that radiates to your ear, temple or cheek.  Sometimes you can’t even tell which tooth is the culprit.  Do not put heat on your face.  If there’s swelling you can apply a cold compress until you can get to a dentist.  Never place aspirin or any pain reliever in your mouth along the gum area of the tooth.  You can badly burn your gums and cheek.  Sleep with two pillows if you can’t see a dentist until the morning.

If you have an abscess, it is because the tooth nerve has died.  The symptoms of an abscess usually start as a constant throbbing pain.  Your tooth may also hurt when you bite down, and eating hot foods or beverages may increase your pain.  If left untreated the infection can spread to your face and cause facial swelling.  Sometimes pus collects inside your mouth by the infected tooth.  This swelling inside the mouth will hurt more and more until it bursts, or your dentist drains the pus from the area.  Call the dentist immediately so that you can be prescribed antibiotics and an X-ray can be taken to diagnose and treat the abscessed tooth appropriately.

We’ve discussed the toothache and abscesses as common dental emergencies and we’ll continue discussing dental emergencies, including “cosmetic” emergencies in our next blog.  Until then visit for other dental information.


  1. I would have had no idea what to do in a dental emergency if I hadn't found this. I would've just been frantically trying to call my dentist in Mississauga, hoping that he would answer.

  2. I have never had an experience to where I needed something as drastic as this, but it's good to know! I have been told by my Red Deer dentists to keep calm and stay simple.

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