dental emergencies

Dental Emergencies – Why You Should See an Emergency Dentist

5 minutes, 11 seconds Read

Dental emergencies are any problems related to the teeth and jaws that need immediate attention. This includes severe tooth pain, visible swelling and any injury to the mouth that cannot be treated by the patient.

Some injuries, like a knocked-out tooth, can be saved if the tooth is re-implanted within an hour of being lost. Other emergencies like a chipped tooth may need root canal treatment to avoid further damage.

Avulsed (knocked-out) Tooth

Injuries to the mouth and cheek areas from sports, car accidents and fights can cause teeth to become dislodged or knocked out. Knocked out teeth that are treated and reinserted within an hour have the best chance of being saved. The first step is to recover the tooth and hold it by its crown (the white part), not the root. Rinse it gently, but do not over-clean or handle the tooth aggressively. If possible, re-insert the tooth and hold it in place with a piece of gauze or cloth. If reinsertion is not possible, store the tooth in milk or a saline solution until you can see a dentist.

Tooth replantation is successful in over 90% of cases. Knocked out teeth that are not replanted promptly will suffer from a variety of problems including ankylosis, apical periodontitis and root canal obliteration. Proper treatment of an avulsed tooth can save it for life, but its success depends on prompt action at the scene of injury and proper storage of the tooth before replantation. The optimum storage medium for a knocked out tooth is saliva, saline solution and milk, as opposed to water with table salt or ice which damages the cell structure of the tooth.

Chipped Tooth

The tooth enamel that covers your teeth is the strongest tissue in your body, but it does have its limits. A fall, sports injury, or biting down on something hard can chip a tooth, as can a crack that develops over time due to bruxism (teeth grinding).

If your tooth chips, see your dentist as soon as possible—preferably the same day. Rinse your mouth with salt water to clean the area, apply pressure with a gauze pad if there is bleeding, and cover the jagged edge with dental cement or wax paraffin to protect your tongue and cheek from cuts. Eat soft foods, and avoid chewing on the injured tooth until your dentist is able to examine it.

If your chipped tooth is only a small piece, your dentist may be able to smooth it and polish it so that it no longer hurts or exposes the inside of the tooth to heat and cold or other forces during chewing. Larger chips that expose the nerve of the tooth will require more extensive treatment with a root canal and a crown or veneer.


The human body communicates exceptionally well, and one of the ways it lets us know when something is wrong is by telling us when we have a toothache. Tooth pain is usually an indication that something needs to be addressed, and putting it off will only make the problem worse and may cause the issue to spread to other areas of the mouth or head.

A dull or persistent toothache could mean that you have a small cavity that needs a filling, while a sharp, throbbing pain is often an indication of infection in the pulp inside your tooth (root canal therapy). Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold can indicate that a crack is present in your tooth, and severe pain when biting down is often an indicator of an impacted wisdom tooth.

Using an online dentist referral service like Shadyside Dentistry is the best way to find an Emergency Dentist in Pittsburgh PA that offers evening, weekend, or walk-in dental appointments to address your toothache or other urgent dental care needs. The sooner the root of the problem is found, the faster and easier it will be to fix, and the less damage there will be.

Broken Tooth

Although the enamel on our teeth is some of the hardest material in our bodies, it’s still vulnerable to damage. Falls, blows to the mouth or jaw, chewing on ice or hard foods, and teeth grinding can all cause tooth fractures. Sometimes the crack is small and harmless, but if it’s severe or irritates the pulp tissue inside, it can lead to serious problems and may require a root canal.

If you break or chip a tooth, rinse the area with warm water to remove any debris or food particles and to clean it out. Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen if needed. If a jagged edge sticks out, use a piece of dental bonding or wax paraffin to cover it and prevent it from cutting your gums or tongue until you see the dentist.

If a tooth is completely broken, you’ll need to see an Emergency Dentist in Pittsburgh PA immediately. If left untreated, the crack can grow and may eventually result in a cracked tooth syndrome that requires root canal treatment or even tooth loss.

Tooth Extraction

A tooth may need to be removed if it is severely decayed or broken in a way that cannot be repaired. Infection can also require extraction, particularly if it involves the pulp, the center of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. Occasionally, teeth need to be removed due to orthodontic treatment or to prevent problems with the jaw bone such as shifting of nearby teeth.

Before the extraction, your dentist will numb the area around the tooth and give you medicine to relax. Then he or she will use a tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth and dental forceps to remove it. You should bite firmly on a piece of gauze for up to an hour after the procedure to stop bleeding and help form a clot in the empty tooth socket.

Most dental emergencies can be prevented by regular brushing and flossing, attending routine dental appointments, and using mouthguards when playing sports. However, if you do experience a severe dental problem, it is important to contact an emergency dentist as soon as possible for treatment and relief from pain.