Woman in her office holding her jaw in pain caused by dental emergency

When is it time to drop everything and get help?

Tooth pain can be a real…well…pain. But sometimes it’s hard to know whether your discomfort is a problem that requires immediate attention, or whether it’s something that can wait until you dentist has an opening.

Being prepared for a dental emergency will have you feeling confident and proactive if a situation should arise, and will also help to minimize potential damage.

Types of Dental Emergencies

Different types of dental emergencies require different levels of attention, and knowing which yours falls under will help you in knowing what those next steps should be. The most common types of emergencies we see in our patients are:


Discomfort coming from a tooth, especially those that worsen when laying down or over time, is one of the most common forms of dental emergency. A tooth that’s causing you pain can mean many things, and will require an exam to find the cause and determine your treatment.

RemedyRinse your mouth with salt water to promote self-healing, and take over-the-counter pain medication to alleviate some of the discomfort you’re experiencing until we can get you into the office to perform an exam. If you’re experiencing swelling, a cold compress against the troubled area will help to reduce inflammation.

Chipped Tooth

Chipping a tooth is more common than one might initially think. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, including while drinking from a glass at the dinner table – definitely not an activity you would call dangerous!

Remedy – Save any pieces of the tooth you still have if possible, and apply gauze if you’re experiencing any bleeding. Rinse your mouth with warm water and use a cold compress if there is any swelling. Contact your dentist to get you in as soon as possible.

Knocked-out Tooth

A knocked out tooth requires urgent attention if there is any chance of saving the tooth. If possible, try to place the tooth back in its socket, but do not use any force. It you can’t replace the tooth, put it in a glass of milk or salt water and take it to the dentist right away.

Remedy – Make an emergency dental appointment, or visit an emergency room if the dentist is unavailable. Time is of the essence in this situation for the tooth to remain viable.

Broken Dental Work

If you have lost a filling, crown, bridge, or any other dental work has come out of its cemented place, you’ll need to get in quickly so the appliance can be reattached or repaired.

Remedy – Save the pieces if possible and contact your dentist right away. Apply gauze over any areas that may be sharp to the tongue to prevent any cuts or further injury.

Wisdom Teeth

Experiencing severe pain or pressure on other teeth from an present wisdom tooth is your body’s way of telling you that the tooth needs to be extracted. If you have recently had your wisdom teeth removed, you may also be experiencing pain from dry sockets.

Remedy – Schedule an appointment with your dentist, who can discuss your extraction options with you to relieve your pain. If you’re experiencing discomfort from an extraction, have your dentist examine the extraction site.

If You’re In Pain, Call Your Dentist

Don’t put up with discomfort because you don’t feel like your injury or broken dental work is “serious” enough. Your health and your comfort matter. Give our office a call even if it’s after hours – our voicemail message will provide further instructions for getting assistance.

In most cases, it’s best to contact your dentist as soon as a dental emergency presents itself. We do everything possible to see patients the same day the emergency occurs.

Non-Dental Causes of Tooth Pain

Discomfort from tooth pain can sometimes fade on its own, while other ailments will require professional help to relieve the discomfort you’re experiencing. Sometimes pain that seems to be stemming from a tooth can be related to other health issues such as:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Sinus Infection
  • Jaw pain

The cause of tooth pain is not always clear, but Barton Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is here to help you, whether you’re experiencing a dental emergency or just simply uncomfortable. Our patients’ comfort and good health is our top priority.