What Exactly Is Considered a Dental Emergency?

How do you know when your smile needs professional attention ASAP?

A dental emergency isn’t always the same for every person. However, there are certain situations in which you’re better off seeking help from a dentist as soon as you can. While you can go the emergency room if your dentist isn’t available, it’s always best to try and see a dentist for injuries or conditions specifically relating to the oral cavity.

So what exactly is considered a dental emergency? Here are a few conditions that you shouldn’t wait to seek help for.

Severe Pain, Swelling, or Bleeding

If you have sudden or severe pain, swelling, or bleeding, it’s time to call your dentist. Pain could be a symptom of a wide range of conditions, from knocked-out or cracked teeth to a life- threatening infection.

Any pain, swelling, or bleeding that’s uncontrollable needs to be evaluated by your oral healthcare professional as soon as possible. While some people who have dental health issues may not experience symptoms, others will.

For example, for some patients, a cracked tooth may not be a dental emergency if the crack is small, but for others, a major crack can be very painful and require immediate attention [1].

Always pay attention to your symptoms and listen to what your body needs!

Trauma to the Oral Cavity

Trauma to your oral cavity can take many forms. You may have been in a car accident and have a broken jaw, or sustained another type of injury that’s affected your facial bones or even your airway.

Any acute trauma to the oral cavity is generally considered a dental emergency [2]. Sports injuries, falls, car accidents, and many other types of situations could affect your jaw, teeth, or gums, leading to the need for immediate professional attention.

Post-Surgery Complications

If you’ve recently had a dental procedure—whether an extraction, wisdom tooth removal, or dental implant placement—and are experiencing adverse symptoms, you may need to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a post-surgery complication or infection that you should never ignore include:

  • Swelling at the procedure site
  •  Unexplained bleeding
  • Loose or missing stitches
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Uncontrollable pain

These could all be signs that your mouth isn’t healing as it should be and may even have an infection [3]. If you’re not sure whether a symptom you’re experiencing is normal, never hesitate to reach out to your dentist to ask!

Broken Orthodontia

If you or your child has metal braces, any type of injury or accident involving your oral cavity could be dangerous. If metal braces are damaged or begin to come apart for any reason, the wire could puncture your soft tissues and require a prompt repair.

While some broken or damaged orthodontia can wait until the next available appointment, other cases are considered an emergency. Never wait to get your braces evaluated if you’re experiencing severe pain or bleeding!

Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out to Your Dentist!

Most dentists offer emergency care and will do their best to accommodate you in the event of a dental emergency. Always reach out to your dentist first before going to the emergency room to ask if they can see you or if you have any questions about a potential dental emergency!


1. https://vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu/you-asked-what-qualifies-as-a-dental-emergency/
2. https://success.ada.org/~/media/CPS/Files/Open%20Files/ADA_COVID19_Dental_Emer
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071467/

Dr. Karan Kamboh
Article Name
Dr. Karan Kamboh
How do you know when your smile needs professional attention ASAP? A dental emergency isn’t always the same for every person. Here are a few conditions that you shouldn’t wait to seek help for.
Lansdowne Dental Associates