Updated: May 19
Emergencies should be addressed promptly but does your particular tooth situation qualify as a type of dental emergency? If not, you may be able to wait.
Common types of dental emergencies:
Throbbing tooth pain that comes and goes
If your tooth is randomly throbbing, it is your body's not so gentle way of letting you know that your tooth is unhealthy. There is most likely severe inflammation of the tooth nerve or even a possible infection.
What you should do is make a prompt appointment with your dentist because there is no home remedy that can remove the inflamed nerve. All home remedies will only temporarily relieve the pain for an hour or two at most.
Chipped or fractured tooth
If you happen to bite down onto something really hard, you could chip your tooth. A very small chip that does not hurt is not an emergency but a larger chip can be either sensitive or painful.
What you should do is ask your dentist to fix the chipped tooth. Restoring the broken tooth could be anywhere from a tooth filling to possibly a veneer but it all depends on the extent of the chip.
Knocked out tooth
Were you playing sports and someone just elbowed you in the face. Before you realized it, your tooth got knocked out and is in your hands. Surprisingly you're not in pain but what should you do?
Should you stick the tooth back in your mouth or should you go see a dentist? You should go see a dentist immediately. Call an uber and go right now because time is of the essence. There is a chance that they may be able to replant it and splint the tooth for you!
Missing or broken filling
If you filling fell off or it broke, there is a very good possibility that it is extremely sensitive. Depending on the extent of the crack, the broken veneer may or ma covering the delicate dentin of the tooth. The filling acts as a replacement for the enamel to protect the sensitive part of your tooth.
You should try to see a dentist as soon as possible for a new tooth filling but if you are unable to make it there you can try to get a temporary filling material from your local pharmacy.
Crown fell off
You were having lunch and all of a sudden you feel something hard in your mouth. You spit out your food and it looks like your dental crown. All of a sudden you feel a surge of tooth sensitivity. This is because the crown is meant to protect your tooth from all external stimuli such as temperature. If your crown fell off, it probably means that the glue melted away.
It is advisable to see a dentist so that you can have your dental crown glued back in permanently. If you need a temporary fix, you can buy some temporary dental glue at your pharmacy but those don't last forever. You need permanent glue so that it doesn't fall off in a few days.
Broken veneer that cracked
One of the most common ways to break a veneer is biting into an unsuspecting olive pit. All it takes is just biting into it the wrong way to crack your beautiful veneer. Depending on the extent of the crack, the broken veneer may or may not be sensitive. If a piece fell off then it will definitely be sensitive.
There is no home remedy to fix a veneer at home. If there was an alternative, the procedure wouldn't cost so much! For cracked veneers, you would need to go see your dentist.
A tooth abscess is usually accompanied by unbearable tooth pain along with some facial swelling. This isn't something that you should sit, wait and see because it could be life threatening. The abscess can grow and the swelling can get bigger and bigger. It will be extremely painful.
You should either go see your dentist immediately or even go to urgent care. Large abscess usually require a tooth extraction along with antibiotics and may even need to be drained.
Gum abscess or swelling
A gum abscess is when you have gum swelling. There will be bleeding along with a toothache. This won't go away on its own because you can try brushing and flossing it all day but the swelling won't go down. Even using different kinds of mouthwashes such as listerine or oregano oil won't help your toothache.
What you should do is have your dentist drain the gum abscess. They can usually do this as a part of the deep teeth cleaning. Everything will need to be cleaned out very well.
Tooth won't stop bleeding
Did you just have a tooth removed but for some reason it won't stop bleeding? Something could be wrong because the bleeding is suppose to stop naturally within 2-3 hours. If it persists on bleeding, you may have a clotting disorder or you're doing something wrong.
You should go back in for a follow up appointment with your dentist to make sure that you don't have a clotting disorder. They will also be able to help you stop the bleeding.
Locked jaw that won't close
Did you happen to yawn really wide or opened suddenly but now you can't close your mouth? You may have locked jaw. You can try to close it yourself by gently maneuvering your jaw.
If you're not having any results, you should go see your dentist sooner rather than later. Alternatively you can also go to urgent care and maybe they can help you unlock your jaw.
Got a little rowdy at happy hour and ended up in an altercation with another patron? If you notice that your jaw doesn't quite close the same way you may have broken your jaw. What a broken jaw can feel like is when you bite down, the bite feels off. You keep trying to shift your bite bit it never goes back to what it use to feel like.
There is nothing you can do and you should actually go to a hospital emergency department. Urgent care and your local dentist office won't really be able to assist you. This is because the jaw needs to be put back together by reducing the fracture. The fracture reduction is a surgical procedure that is done in the operating room so go to a hospital!
Broken braces cutting lips
Broken orthodontic wires and brackets can cause a lot of trauma to your mouth. The braces can cut your lips or even poke them. This will cause sores that can bleed and feel very painful.
You are not able to fix the braces yourself because only an orthodontist can do that. In the meantime if you have some orthodontic wax, you can use it to cover the broken piece so that it doesn't cause additional damage to your lips.
Loose teeth can be very painful and the reason why they are loose would most likely be due to periodontal disease. In fact, it is what we call end stage gum disease, severe periodontitis. Usually when a tooth gets loose, it is not possible to tighten them back up.
You should go see your dentist so that they can remove the tooth for you and then give you a dental implant afterwards. You plan on replacing it don't you? A missing tooth can really hamper your dating life and social outings.
Hopefully that helps answer whether or not your particular oral condition is one of the types of dental emergencies that warrant a visit to the dentist. Our emergency dentists in long island city are always available for emergencies if you live close by! Otherwise you can find a dentist near you.