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Common Dental Emergencies You May Face

Three cartoon teeth being looked at. One crying is smiling; one is crying, and one is winking.

When most of us think about emergencies, our minds go straight to the hospital. But, that's not always the case. In fact, around 800,000 American citizens end up with dental-related emergencies that are treated at dental offices throughout the average year. Those who suffer from bruxism and other oral health conditions that damage the enamel and structure of the teeth are more likely to experience the following dental emergencies.

10 Common Dental Emergencies


While pain isn't something that most people are unfamiliar with, dental pain can be extravagantly worse than most other pains. In most cases, severe tooth decay is the leading issue behind toothaches. Cold compresses and over-the-counter medications can help to alleviate some of the pain. However, a dentist will be necessary to remove the tooth decay. If you experience swelling alongside pain, it's a sign that you should get it looked at swiftly.

If your toothache is due to grinding, or bruxism, your dentist can recommend some nighttime appliances that help to prevent this.

Broken Tooth

Our dentists are familiar with the average broken or chipped tooth. Whether it's a result of biting down too hard or taking a forceful blow to the face, eventually, a tooth may break off. This holds especially true for those who suffer from bruxism as this condition wears down the structural integrity of the teeth. Typically, weaker teeth are more prone to breaking. It's best to use cold compresses and avoid hard food until you seek dental help.

Lost Crown or Filling

When you have a cavity, your dentist will replace it will a filling or a dental implant complete with a crown on top. Unfortunately, these fixes aren't as strong as your natural teeth. Fillings can be pulled out, and crowns can come off. You'll want to save the filling or crown if possible. Avoid eating or drinking anything other than water until your dentist can reattach your crown or put in another filling. Otherwise, you run the risk of re-infecting your tooth and gums.

Close-up of a smiling, young boy with a missing tooth.

Knocked-Out Tooth

Another common reason that you may need to end up at an emergency dental appointment is due to a knocked-out tooth.

This typically happens when there is a blunt force applied to the face, such as taking a baseball to the jaw. You'll want to immediately locate the knocked-out tooth and rinse off the root side of it. Be sure that you avoid any scrubbing or removing of any attached tissue fragments as they can be reused to reattach the tooth.

You should store the tooth in water or milk with a little bit of salt to help to preserve it until you make it to the dentist's office. In this scenario, the quicker you get there, the more likely they'll be able to reattach the knocked-out tooth.

Broken Orthodontics

Many people utilize orthodontics to help rearrange their existing teeth. Unfortunately, orthodontic devices can sometimes break. When this happens, it can be dangerous to the inside of your cheeks and gums. For example, if one of the wires breaks on your braces, it can poke your cheek or gum and create more discomfort in your mouth. It's best to try to bend the broken wire into a more comfortable position and cover it with orthodontic wax until you can get into your emergency dentist.


Probably one of the most painful reasons that you'll end up at an emergency dentist is that you have an abscess in your mouth. This is simply an infection at the root of a tooth or in the space between your teeth and gums.

This is a serious condition that can affect the rest of your body if left untreated. You'll notice an abscess by its physical appearance of being a pimple-like swollen spot on your gums. You can rinse your mouth with water and ice to help provide some temporary relief until you get into the emergency dentist's office.

Post-Procedure Complications

If you've recently undergone dental surgery, there's always a possibility of post-procedure bleeding or complications. After the dental procedure, your dentist should inform you of any potential signs that you need to be looking out for that indicate that there is a post-procedure problem.

If you experience any of these issues like persistent bleeding, you'll want to have the problem immediately evaluated by your dental professional.

Loose Tooth

If you go to bite down and you realize that one of your teeth seems to be moving, it's necessary to evaluate it gently. If you can freely wobble your tooth around in your mouth, it needs to get evaluated by a dental professional immediately.

You never want to let this issue persist as the tooth could completely fall out. A dental professional is able to sanitize the area and work to reattach the tooth successfully. Time is of the essence when it comes to dealing with a loose tooth.

Soft Tissue Injury

There is a lot of soft tissue that makes up your mouth. These include your lips, gums, tongue, and the inside of your cheeks. Whenever one of these tissue structures is injured, it can become easily infected.

If you've experienced punctures, tears, or even lacerations, it's necessary to rinse the area with warm water and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. You want to get into your dental professional to have the issue professionally evaluated. They'll be able to properly clean the area to prevent an infection from happening.

Severe Tooth Decay

If your tooth has become severely decayed, it needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. Letting decayed teeth progress can completely destroy the tooth and can create a large infection that spreads throughout your gums.

If you can physically see the presence of decay on the exterior of your tooth, it should be looked at by a dental professional immediately. The longer you wait, the more damaging it will be to your wallet and your oral health. In rare cases, the decay can spread through your sinuses and into the brain.

If you need help with a dental emergency, be sure to contact Clay & Associates DDS, PLC in Fort Dodge, IA right away.


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