6 Dental Emergencies and How to Treat Them

Updated: Nov 14

Dental emergencies are a common occurrence Hoschton, GA! If you need an emergency dentist in Hoschton, GA, we are here for you. Many things can cause a dental emergency, including tooth decay, gum disease, or a traumatic injury. If you have a sudden dental emergency, it's essential to know how to handle it.

What is a dental emergency?
What is a dental emergency?

What is a dental emergency?

Before we talk about how to treat your situation, you'll need to decide if you are having a true dental emergency. True dental emergencies must be handled immediately as they can quickly become life-threatening.


The following list contains symptoms that constitute a dental emergency:

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Bleeding

  • Visible infection or exudate (usually in the form of a "fistula," which looks like a pimple on your gums)

  • Broken or accidentally extracted tooth

This list is not exhaustive, but having any of these symptoms is a dental emergency.


6 Common Dental Emergencies

First, it is important to understand that if you have pain or swelling, call us immediately at 706-658-2383. If our office is closed call 706-658-2383 or, if necessary you can go directly to your local hospital's emergency room.


1. Moderate to Extreme Toothache

If you are having moderate to extreme pain associated with a tooth or in your jaw, you are having a dental emergency, and you should call your dentist right away.


You can take over-the-counter pain medications as you would typically take for a headache, but it is likely that they will not help with the pain. You may also try applying a cold compress and rinsing with a saltwater solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water). However, these remedies will only alleviate some of the pain, and your toothache will not go away on its own.


2. Swollen Jaw / Face

If your jaw is swollen, the chances are high that you are also experiencing pain. Even without the pain symptom, it is imperative that you call your dentist as soon as you notice the swelling. As we stated earlier, if your dental office is closed and there is no one to contact for emergencies, you should immediately go to your local ER.


A swollen jaw is usually a sign of a deeply infected tooth. The infection can spread to your lymph nodes and into the rest of your head and neck. It may even spread to your heart. Facial swelling should be taken seriously as it is life-threatening.


3. Bleeding Gums

Now, we're not talking about bleeding after you floss! If you don't floss often, your gums will bleed after being flossed and sometimes even brushed. As long as the bleeding stops within a few moments, this is not a dental emergency.


However, if your gums bleed without provocation and do not stop, that is a dental emergency. This is especially true if the bleeding is accompanied by pain and swelling.


4. Visible Infection

In the earlier stages of infection, your face or jaw may not swell. However, any stage of infection is still a dental emergency, and you should call your dentist.


Infection may become apparent in a couple of ways. First, you may notice a small "fistula" on your gum tissue where the root of your tooth is. A fistula looks like a small pimple and can even burst, just like a pimple. Second, you may notice exudate (pus) around a tooth. This is a sure sign your tooth is infected.


Until we can see you, rinse your mouth out with saltwater a few times each day.


5. Broken Tooth

A broken tooth that is either causing pain or is sharp to your tongue or cheek is a dental emergency.


If you are experiencing pain, there has likely been nerve exposure. Without immediate treatment, the pain will worsen, and the tooth may be damaged beyond repair. Schedule a dental appointment and take over-the-counter pain relief medications to alleviate some of the discomfort if needed.


If you have a broken tooth but do not have pain or swelling, treatment can likely wait a couple of days. Many drug stores sell dental cement, which can be placed in the broken area to protect the tooth and remove any sharp spots.


6. Extracted Tooth

A tooth that has been removed from the mouth - by a traumatic injury or because it was loose - also qualifies as a dental emergency. (Unless, of course, it was a baby tooth that was ready to be lost!)


Pick up the tooth by the crown portion, not the root. If the root is dirty, quickly rinse it with water. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any connected tissue. Try to place the tooth back in the socket, but do not force it into place. If you cannot replace the tooth, either hold it in your cheek or place it in a small container of milk. Call your dentist as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get treatment, the higher the chances that the tooth can be saved.


What is not a dental emergency?

While it can feel like any tooth-related issue is an emergency, if you are not in pain, have no swelling, and can function normally for a couple of days, you are not experiencing a dental emergency.


Non-emergency dental problems are things like a slightly chipped tooth, tooth discoloration, mild pain not associated with swelling, or a small crack. All of these things can wait until your dental office opens.


A crown that comes off can also feel like an emergency. However, if you can place the crown back on the tooth and do not have pain, this too can wait. In the meantime, you can purchase dental cement from a drug store and temporarily cement the crown back into place. Toothpaste or denture adhesive is also a good substitution if you cannot get to a store. Whatever you do, do NOT use super glue!


Hopefully, you never experience a dental emergency. Regular visits to the dentist and good home care can often prevent most emergencies, but they still happen. Make sure you know what to do in each type of dental emergency so that you can avoid as much discomfort as possible and recover from the crisis quickly.


If you have a dental emergency, call us right away at 706-658-2383. If you have any additional questions about your oral hygiene, please feel free to contact us at Traditions Dental. To learn more about Traditions Dental visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to follow us on social media on IG @traditionsdental and Facebook @traditionsdental.

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